If you have skin growths in your genital region, genital wart testing is important because there are a couple of strains of the virus that cause genital warts that can lead to the development of cervical cancer. Genital wart tests can help to identify whether you have human papilloma virus (HPV), which is the virus that causes genital warts, as well as what type you have. There are home test kits available that you can use, but it’s best to also get a confirmatory test from your doctor. Your physician can remove existing warts that you have and discuss any further treatment or follow-up checks that you might need.
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How to test for genital warts
Is there a test for genital warts? The good news is that there is. Home test kits can allow you to test for some strains of the virus in the privacy of your home. It is important for you to see your doctor in order to confirm any results, including negative ones. If you have symptoms, your doctor can confirm the diagnosis visually. He or she may then perform lab tests to determine which strain you have.
If you have symptoms, you can start by doing a visual check of your genital area using a mirror. If you have skin tags, small growths that have a cauliflower-like appearance or other skin anomalies, you should then get tested. You can order a test kit online to be delivered directly to you, go to a clinic or see your doctor to check if you have genital warts. For more detailed information about what causes genital warts, read this article.
How will I know if I have the virus?
It is important to get tested by your doctor to confirm your suspicions even if you think that you do. It is possible that you might be infected even if your sexual partner does not have any symptoms. If you do have HPV, you should consider also being tested for other sexually transmitted infections.
You should get tested if any of the following apply:
- When you have engaged in unprotected sex with a new partner.
- When your partner has symptoms or when you do.
- When you or your partner have engaged in unprotected sex with multiple partners.
- When you are planning to become pregnant or you already are.
- When a partner tells you that he or she has an STD.
- When you have tested positive for another STD.
It is important for you to understand that you may have HPV even if you do not have any visible warts. It is a very common infection in the U.S. Since HPV is a skin infection, it is possible to get it from skin to skin contact from the skin around a condom. This means that it is possible for you to spread the infection or to become infected even if you or your partner used a condom. To learn about how to tell the difference between HPV vs. herpes, click here.
How soon after sex can a check be performed?
If you believe you may have been exposed to the virus that causes genital warts, you can get checked immediately. It often takes some time before warts appear, however. Your doctor can tell you what to look for and how to perform a self-check at home.
Genital warts often have an incubation period of between two and three months before they appear. The symptoms may first show up anywhere from one month to 20 months following the contact with the virus, however. As soon as the virus is transmitted, it infects the upper layers of the skin where it may lay dormant or latent for months or years.
What does the checkup for genital warts involve?
Your doctor will start with a visual examination of your genitals. If there are visible growths, he or she may inspect them using a magnifying lens.
The doctor may also do the following:
- Check the inside of your vagina for the presence of any warts.
- Check the inside of your anus for the presence of any warts.
- Perform a small biopsy on one of the warts in some cases, using a local anesthetic.
- Use a testing kit for specific strains of the virus.
- Schedule or perform a removal procedure for existing warts, which may involve burning them off with a laser or freezing them.
- Discuss follow-up care, including the need for more frequent pap smears in some cases.
- Perform other STD tests.
New tests check for certain strains of the virus, but they are not routinely used. If you are a woman whose pap smear was abnormal, your doctor is likely to perform a lab test to check for high-risk strains, including HPV 16 and HPV 18. These two strains together account for 70 percent of cervical cancers. Lower risk strains include HPV 6 and HPV 11, which cause about 90 percent of genital warts. Other strains that are at high-risk for causing cancer include HPV 31, HPV 33, HPV 45, HPV 52 and HPV 55.
The large variety of different types of HPV viruses makes it impossible for you to determine which strain you might have simply from the symptoms that you have. Because some strains carry a high risk for the development of cancer, it is important that you get tested to determine which strain you do have so you can treat it and complete any recommended follow-up checks.
The at-home tests include both natural ones as well as mail-order kits. If you believe that you might have been exposed to HPV, you can test yourself in several ways:
- White vinegar
When a 3 to 5 percent solution of vinegar, or acetic acid, is applied to infected areas of the skin, the areas will turn white. This may be useful to find flat wart lesions as not all of them are raised. You can rub the vinegar on using a cotton swab and then use a mirror to see if any area turns white. This does not definitively show that you have genital warts, however. White vinegar will turn any scratch or abrasion on the skin’s surface white.
- The DiagLine Test for Genital Warts
This is an at-home test kit that is used to check for strains HPV 6 and HPV 11, which are the most common HPV types.
Where to purchase: home-HIV-tests.com.
How it works: You swab the area that you want to test. Then, you dip the swab into the buffer solution A, which comes with the kit. Next, you mix it with buffer solution B and drop a few droplets into the rapid test cassette. The results appear within a few minutes. If you are positive for the two strains the test checks for, the results will appear in the cassette window.
- At-Home HPV Test Kit
This at-home test kit tests for HPV 16, HPV 18 and 12 more high-risk HPV strains. You can also add on the genital warts test to check for the HPV 6 and HPV 11 strains.
Cost: $79 for the high-risk strain tests alone; $99 to add the genital warts test.
Where to purchase: selfcollect.com
How it works: With this test kit, you self-collect your samples from your chosen body site, including anal, vaginal, penile or oral. You then send it into Selfcollect for testing in its lab. You can log on to the website to view your results.
How to get tested for genital warts
After you have performed visual checks, the vinegar test and any home-testing kits, you can then schedule an appointment with your doctor or local clinic. Your doctor may perform additional tests and will discuss how you can prevent spreading the virus to others. The doctor will likely want you to have more frequent pap smears if you are a woman or occasional re-checking for symptoms whether you are male or female.
Human papilloma virus is one of the most common sexually transmitted infections. A majority of sexually active adults will become infected at some point in time. HPV testing is important to find out if you have the infection and whether or not the strain that you have is one that is high risk. This can help you to identify your particular strain so that you can help to prevent the development of cancer.