Symptoms of Genital Warts
Determining whether or not you are infected with the strain of human papillomavirus (HPV) that causes genital warts can be a difficult process, as not everyone who is infected exhibits obvious outward symptoms. It also varies as to how long it takes symptoms to manifest once the virus has been contracted. Some people may show signs of infection after just a few weeks of incubation while others may remain completely symptom free for years.
If you think you may have been exposed, it's always advisable to visit a physician sooner rather than later. He or she can test for the presence of the virus so that you can know once and for all. Sexually active individuals should also make sure to get regular screenings whether or not they ever show signs of genital warts. It is still possible to be a carrier of the virus and infect others whether or not you show any symptoms yourself.
Also, symptoms can be so variable from individual to individual that it is impossible to determine whether or not you have genital warts for yourself. Only a doctor can say for sure. However, the most common outward symptoms include the following:
- Genital warts appear as clusters of lesions or bumps that are cauliflower-like in appearance. They can be either raised or flat. Some warts are red or pinkish in color while others appear to be closer to grey. Men may develop these lesions on the penis, scrotum, or inside the urethra. Women may have them pop up on the vaginal lips, inside the vagina itself, on the cervix, or inside the uterus. Both genders also may notice them around the anal area.
- Discomfort, pain, itching, or burning in the genital or anal regions. Many people mistake this symptom for a simple rash.
- Excessive moisture or dampness in the areas that are infected. Women may notice an increase in vaginal excretions as well.
- Painful intercourse that may or may not result in bleeding during or afterwards for women. This may signal the presence of genital warts inside the vagina or in the cervical area where they're not as easily detected.
- Men may notice small papules (bumps) on the shaft of the penis.
- Those who have engaged in oral sex with an infected person may develop clusters of wart lesions in the mouth or throat as well.
Anyone who notices any combination of the above symptoms of genital warts should immediately cease any sexual contact with a partner. They should also make an appointment with their physician to be screened for the disease as soon as possible. Although genital warts are not curable, it is important to get them treated and under control, as an infection that goes untreated for too long can result in further health issues and complications. The sooner the disease is detected and dealt with, the more likely treatment is to ultimately be as successful as possible.