A sexually transmitted infection is not something that should be looked at as a minor deal. No matter what kind it is, the fact remains that an STI can follow you throughout your life and cause multiple complications. Genital warts are one of these infections. Caused by the Human Papilloma Virus, these growths will invade all areas of the genitals and come with many side effects. HPV is so easily transmitted that precautionary measures are essential if you want to avoid getting it.
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Is it Possible to Transmit Genital Warts?
HPV is estimated to affect 79 million Americans. It is the most easily transferable sexually transmitted infection and spreads to millions more each year. But although it is the most easy to spread, not all types of HPV will cause genital warts. For the types that do, always remember that it is transmitted through sexual contact, which is not the same way that common or plantar warts are.
Genital warts will not show up on your body immediately. The virus takes time to cause the growths to appear, meaning that although you may be infected, the warts may take a certain amount of time to show up.
Know How They are Transmitted
Unlike other warts, genital warts are transmitted only through sexual contact. HPV lies in the body’s epithelial cells, which are the flat cells on the skin’s surface and are abundant in areas like the genitals, mouth, throat, and anus. HPV is drawn to skin that is moist, with many mucous membranes, such as the reproductive organs.
Many wonder if the virus can spread from areas like the hand to the genitals, but it cannot. HPV is spread primary through the direct contact of two genital organs, or the genitals and the mouth. Conversely, common warts cannot spread to the genitals.
Ways to spread genital warts:
Sexual intercourse: Whether the man or woman is infected with the HPV that causes warts, if their genitals make contact, HPV can easily spread from one to the other. Once intercourse begins to take place, which is the act of the penis entering the vagina, the infected epithelial cells of whichever partner has HPV will come in contact with the other. Drawn to the moist tissue, the HPV will then leave the cells of the infected partner and enter the epithelial cells of the other. The virus begins to replicate, enters the bloodstream, where it will eventually settle completely in the genitals and cause future outbreaks.Warning
It is important to note that wearing a condom will not necessarily stop the spread of genital warts. While it may decrease the chance of transmission, it is not a surefire preventative measure. Other areas of the body such as the scrotum, labia, and anus can contain the HPV and are not covered by a condom. A diaphragm or female condom also will not prevent you from getting genital warts.
- Oral Sex: The mouth and throat are subject to genital warts as well. These areas are moist with an abundance of mucous membranes that HPV is easily spread to. When a penis is inside a partner’s mouth, the HPV that invades the infected person’s epithelial cells will transfer to their partner’s cells, infecting them and spreading to their body. If the newly infected person had HPV transferred to their mouth, growths will eventually show up inside the cheeks, tongue, and possibly the throat. Men or women who perform oral sex to a woman can also spread or catch the HPV by making contact with the virus in the vagina’s epithelial cells.
- Anal Sex: If an infected man’s penis makes contact with a man or woman’s anus, it can also easily spread. The anus is moist and has several mucous membranes which then become easily infected. The already-infected recipient of anal sex can also spread their HPV to a man’s penis.
Where will they appear?
Genital warts will appear on many areas of the genital region. Each outbreak may be in different areas, or the warts may appear in the same spots as before. HPV will settle in the epithelial layers of the skin, waiting in its inactive state. Every so often, the virus will become active, replicating until it causes a growth to appear.
Genital warts are usually raised, with a cauliflower-like appearance, and tend to grow in clusters. They are normally painless but may itch or be irritating to the skin. If you scratch or rub them too much, they can bleed. If you have questions about whether genital warts hurt, go here.
- In men: Men can experience genital warts on the shaft of the penis, penis head, scrotum, groin, and anus. In uncircumcised men, the warts can appear hidden underneath the foreskin. Anal warts may grow inside the anus, making them hard to spot.
- In women: Women will find that genital warts can appear all around the vagina including the vulva, cervix, clitoris, labia, and inside of the vagina. They can also appear in and around the anus.
- Both genders: In the case of oral sex, either gender can have genital warts show up in their mouth. They can appear on the tongue, inside of the cheeks, or throat.
Not only can genital warts be irritating and cause complications with your sexual activity, they can pose a health risk. The strains of HPV are known to greatly increase the risk of cervical cancer in women, as well as penile cancer in men, and anal cancer in both genders.
How Long Will it Take to Know if I Have Genital Warts?
Most have no idea that they are infected with HPV until the genital warts appear on them. Once transmission is made, HPV is transferred to the newly infected, spreading through the body and settling into the skin cells of the genitals until activating into an outbreak.
Although there are cases of the warts showing up weeks after sexual contact with an infected partner, the average time frame for a first outbreak is two to three months after infection. Remember, there is no cure for HPV, only treatments for the outbreaks that occur. Such treatments include topical cream you apply yourself, ones administered by a physician, and in some cases, surgery. To discover more facts about genital wart cream, click here.
Genital warts don’t have to be the end of the world. With the correct treatment and vigilance, they can be managed and tolerated. Always remember to discuss your genital warts with any sexual partner before being intimate, and take appropriate measures to prevent them through honest communication and safe sex. For more information about having sex after being diagnosed with genital warts, find it here.