Genital Warts Testing & Diagnosis
If you suspect you may have been infected with the human papillomavirus (HPV) that causes genital warts, it is important to visit your physician and get yourself tested as soon as possible. The sooner the infection is detected and proper treatment is begun, the better your chances at getting and keeping outbreaks and any resulting discomfort under control.
Genital warts manifest as small, cauliflower-like bumps or growths about two millimeters in diameter. However, they can grow in clusters that are capable of covering quite a large area. They typically appear on the outer genitals or around the anus, but they can also form inside the vagina, urethra, or uterus as well. If you engage in oral sex with an infected person, you may eventually notice growths in your mouth or throat. Nevertheless, it is important to note that not all people experience symptoms right away or at all and only a doctor can say for sure whether or not you're infected.
Genital warts testing is performed by a doctor. One of the first things you can expect your doctor to do when you come in for your exam is ask questions in regards to your symptoms. He or she will probably also inquire as to your sexual history and recent sexual activity, as well as any other health conditions you may have or medications you may be on. This will be followed by a physical examination of your genitals, anal area, and pelvic region as your doctor looks for visual signs of HPV infection. Your doctor will also check your mouth and throat for visible signs as well.
If it's a possibility that your genital warts are not readily visible, your doctor may also perform a few tests that involve chemical solutions that can help detect the presence of an infection. The solutions involved are acetic solutions that will cause affected areas of skin to turn white when directly applied. Your physician may apply these solutions to your penis, cervical area, labia, and anal region.
For female patients additional tests may be performed to determine whether or not genital warts have appeared within the vagina or cervical area. These include a Pap smear during which your doctor will collect a sample of your cervical cells via a scraping and then check them for abnormalities. Some doctors may also perform a procedure called a colposcopy. This involves insertion of a lighted device into the vagina to allow for a more complete examination of the vaginal tissue for signs of HPV infection.
In cases where genital wart infection isn't easily confirmed using other methods, a physician may decide to collect a tissue sample for examination via a biopsy. The tissue collected will then be examined more closely under a microscope or via further tests.
Once your doctor is able to rule out other possibilities and confirm HPV infection, he or she will then make a recommendation as far as treatment of your condition. This may involve surgical removal of growths, use of prescription medication, or some combination of the two. The sooner a diagnosis can be determined and treatment begun, the more effective it will ultimately be - all the more reason not to wait to see your doctor if you suspect genital warts as a possible diagnosis.