The pleasure of sex can be ruined when you have genital warts. They’re unsightly and can make you feel less desirable. Even worse, they can make sex painful. The ugly growths result from a Human Papillomavirus (HPV) infection you may have acquired many years ago which stayed dormant in your body. Now not only are genital warts creating a problem in your sex life, you’re facing the embarrassment of going to a doctor. Take heart. There are thousands like you and medical science has treatments and medications that can help.
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Are There Ways to Remove Genital Warts Permanently?
Genital warts can and do sometimes spontaneously disappear or remained unchanged without treatment. But when they don’t, you can have them removed. In general, if your wart is soft, your doctor will prescribe one or more medicated creams or ointments to remove it. Keep in mind that some of these can interfere with your birth control method. If your warts are hard, the preferred choice of treatment may be surgical removal. Either method may require more than one round of treatment. For many, undergoing treatment to remove warts means that their genital warts have been cured.
Genital warts are not life threatening. You may opt for not treating them if you’re no longer sexually active, if the warts aren’t causing discomfort or bleeding, or if the warts aren’t changing in shape or color. You may not even have genital warts. Other skin conditions or infected areas can be mistaken for warts. There is information here to help you distinguish genital warts vs pimples.
There are, however, benefits to having your warts removed even if they aren’t overly bothersome.
Those benefits include:
- Less risk of infecting others with HPV.
- Relief from itching or other discomfort.
- Knowledge that the growths are not cancer.
- Elimination of growths that are difficult to keep clean.
- Elimination of discomfort during sex.
- Increased confidence in your appearance.
Because genital warts are the result of an HPV infection, they can always come back. HPV is generally regarded as permanent, although medical science is working on a cure. Until the underlying HPV infection is eliminated, there is not a permanent cure for genital warts. Only two of the more than 100 kinds of HPV cause genital warts. Other kinds of HPV can cause cancers of your genitalia.
Medical professionals recommend having your warts removed before delivery if you’re pregnant. That’s to keep them from getting irritated or bleeding during delivery. It also lessens the risk of passing HPV to your child as you’re giving birth. Infecting a newborn with genital warts can have serious consequences for it. Your doctor may recommend a cesarean section to help prevent infecting your baby. Your questions on how to treat genital warts in children are answered here.
Available Kinds of Medications
You have choices when deciding how and when to have your warts removed. You’ll need to work closely with your doctor on how to treat genital warts. It’s important for you to understand the benefits, potential risks, and side effects of each treatment so that you can make an informed decision about what’s best for you.
Genital warts occur when an individual is infected with HPV. HPV is a virus which antibiotics can’t kill, so antibiotics are not prescribed to get rid of warts. However, warts can become irritated from clothing or during sexual intercourse. They may itch, bleed, or become infected. An infected genital wart is treated with antibiotics the same as any other infection.
Bacterial infections can occur in your sex organs simultaneously with warts. You can treat those with over-the-counter antibiotic creams and ointments, such as Neosporin. Because of the sensitivity of the area, choose the mildest antibiotic that doesn’t further irritate your skin. Severe bacterial infections can be treated with Mupirocin, which is available by prescription only.
The best way to fight an HPV infection is a strong immune system. You can increase your immune defenses if you make lifestyle changes such as:
- Stopping smoking.
- Losing excess weight.
- Getting plenty of exercise.
- Consuming alcohol only in moderation.
- Eating lots of fruits and vegetables.
- Reducing stress.
- Getting plenty of sleep.
These changes are easier said than done, but you can accomplish them one at a time when you remember that they make a positive difference in your health.
Additionally, if at all possible, spend time outdoors in nature. If your immune system is compromised by medical conditions, such as chemotherapy or radiation, talk with your doctor about how to stay strong. If you’re sexually active, use condoms to avoid additional infection.
More Information About Medications for Genital Warts
A number of prescription products for genital warts are available. Because they’re applied to your skin, they’re classified as topical remedies. You and your doctor may choose an ointment that must be applied to your warts in the office or select one that you can apply yourself at home.
The prescription ointments and creams for genital warts that can be applied at home include:
These should not be used if you’re pregnant.
Prescription topical treatments that must be applied by a doctor include:
Research has shown BCA and TCA to be safe if you’re pregnant. Podocon can harm the fetus and should not be used during pregnancy.
Without reservation, medical professionals advise against using over-the-counter wart removal creams, gels, or liquids. These aren’t meant for use on your sensitive genital skin. Many individuals choose to try them, usually because they are embarrassed or afraid to talk to a health care practitioner. If you do decide to try a non-prescription remedy, you need to realize that you risk seriously damaging your skin and potentially making your HPV genital warts much worse.
Although consulting a health care professional can be expensive, doctors can treat parts of your body that’s hard to reach or treat large growths. Some of the treatments can be painful or have side effects, but they have the advantage or removing warts quickly.
What If Creams and Ointments Don’t Cure My Genital Warts?
Although the prescription ointments are usually effective for HPV genital warts, they can take a long time to remove the growths. If your warts aren’t disappearing in a reasonable amount of time, if the ointment irritates your skin, or if warts continue to recur quickly, you might opt for surgical removal.
Each of the following is an accepted surgical procedure for genital warts:
- Cryotherapy is the medical term for freezing warts. It involves spraying the wart with liquid nitrogen. Your doctor may choose to use cryotherapy for small warts located on the shaft of the penis or near the vulva. It usually feels like mild burning, and a blister often forms at the site. The area may be painful as it heals.
- Electrosurgery involves burning off the warts and is done only by trained specialists. The wart is encircled with a small metal loop, then electricity is passed through the loop. That burns off the wart. Because the procedure can be painful, the area will be numbed with a local anesthetic first. If the wart is large, part of it may be surgically removed before the electrosurgery. You may be given a general anesthetic then or if you’re having multiple warts burned off.
- Ablation or excision means that the warts are surgically cut out. It’s not often recommended for genital warts that are large. Excision leaves a scar.
All the procedures take at least a week and often up to three weeks to heal. During that time, you must avoid using any skin or genital products that could irritate the area where your warts were removed. Use only products prescribed by your doctor to help heal your skin. He or she may prescribe a soothing ointment to relieve pain or an antibiotic to prevent a bacterial infection. You’ll need to avoid sex until you’re fully healed.
With all treatments, the warts may return. Sometimes they come back within weeks of the treatment, and sometimes they don’t reappear for months or years. Although medical research hasn’t yet determined exactly why, genital warts first appear and recur most frequently in individuals who smoke. Removing the warts does not cure the underlying cause, which is the HPV infection. You can learn how to treat HIV warts here.
Laser genital wart removal is a surgical procedure that requires special equipment and training. The warts are burned off with a laser beam. It’s used mostly for internal genital warts that can’t be treated with other procedures because of their size or location. You’ll be given the appropriate anesthesia before the procedure.
Interferon fights viruses, so it can be injected into genital warts if other treatments don’t work. Although the treatments don’t cure HPV, sometimes the strength of the infection can be reduced. Interferon cannot be used if you are pregnant.
What Is the Best Medicine for HPV Genital Warts?
You are an individual. Your genital warts are as individual as you are. There isn’t any one particular medicine or treatment that is the best for everyone. Factors to consider when deciding on the best medicine or treatment for removing your warts include where your warts are, how big they are, and how many of them you have. The cost of each treatment is also part of deciding which is best. You may have to experiment before you discover the most effective way to remove your warts. The best medicine is one that is the gentlest possible that will eliminate your warts.
Consider talking to your doctor about an HPV vaccine, since HPV is why you have warts. There are three primary HPV vaccines. If you already have HPV and genital warts, your doctor can select a vaccine that will protect you from the types of HPV that can cause cancer.
The vaccines were originally intended for teens and preteens before they became sexually active, however, they can be administered to individuals up to the age of 26, especially if they don’t already have HPV. However, you aren’t left out if you’re older and/or have HPV. There’s also been some research and anecdotal evidence of the vaccines alleviating the strength of the virus and eliminating HPV genital warts.
HPV can remain dormant in your body for weeks, months, or years. If you’ve had sexual contact with an infected person, you’ll probably develop genital warts between six weeks or so and six months. But it may be years before the first one appears. Don’t waste your time trying to determine when or from whom you got HPV. Put your time and energy instead into learning as much as you can about treatments so that you select the best possible medicine for you. Remember also that a strong immune system is your best defense against infection. Try to live a lifestyle that helps your body resist HPV, practice safe sex, and seek treatment if you have genital warts.