Patient information. Genital Warts. Directorate of Genitourinary Medicine PIF 1466 V3

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1 Patient information Genital Warts Directorate of Genitourinary Medicine PIF 1466 V3

2

3 What are genital warts? Genital warts are a common sexually transmitted infection. They are fleshy growths of skin which appear on or around the genital and anal (back passage) area in both males and females. Warts are usually painless but can become itchy and sore if they are located around the anal area. Warts can also appear inside the water passage in men. This infection is caused by a virus called Human Papillomavirus (HPV). How are genital warts passed on? This virus is commonly passed on during sexual contact with someone who also has the virus on their skin. It is possible that it can also be spread during genital skin to skin contact and by sharing sex toys. This may happen even if the warts are tiny or can t be seen. Warts can also appear around the back passage (anal) area of males and females even if there has been no direct sexual contact in that area. Although condoms offer some protection from the virus they do not cover all of the genital area. This means that there will still be areas of the genitals that are not protected. It is important to remember that genital warts do not develop straightaway. Therefore, if you are in a relationship and you suddenly develop genital warts it does not necessarily mean your partner has been unfaithful. If you have had more than one partner it can be difficult to know who you got the virus from.

4 Are there any long term complications? The types of HPV that cause genital warts (warts that can be seen) do not usually pose a threat to a person s health. It is known, however, some other types of this virus can lead to serious health problems such as cervical cancer. This is a different type of the virus and does not cause warts that can be seen on the skin. It is known, though, that you can contract more than one type of the virus at any one time. During pregnancy, warts can grow in size and number. Although it is rare, if warts are present at the time of a vaginal delivery then it is possible for the woman to pass the virus on to the baby. What treatment will be given to me? The treatment that will be offered will depend on the size, number and location of your warts. Some warts can be treated at home with creams. Some warts are treated by freezing (cryotherapy) and will be done in clinic once a week. If you are pregnant, you cannot have the cream for home treatment and freezing will always be offered as a treatment. Please let staff know if you are pregnant. Are there any alternatives available? Very rarely, you may be referred for surgery if the warts are very large and do not respond to treatments.

5 Are there any side effects to treatment? Side effects can happen but are not common. Creams can cause irritation and soreness if they are not applied properly or you are allergic to them. It is also possible that freezing can cause some soreness. The doctor or nurse who gives you your treatment will advise you of any side effects that are likely and what to do if this happens. How long will the treatment take? The treatment will work quickly with some people but more slowly with others. Creams are usually given to take home for four weeks and you are asked to return if the warts are still present. Freezing only takes a few seconds to each wart once per week until the warts are gone. It is known that warts can return in some people even if they have the same partner. Sometimes treatments are changed if they don t appear to be working. What will happen if I do not have treatment? Although no treatment is an option, if left untreated genital warts may disappear, stay the same, or grow larger in size or number. What to do Do tell the person who is treating you if you are pregnant. Do avoid sexual contact until your treatment is finished and the warts have gone. You will then be advised to use condoms for a while afterwards. Do ask your partner to attend for a check up Do not give your treatment to anyone else

6 Follow up Depending upon what treatment you receive, you may be asked to return after one week or four weeks. Further information Health Advisor in the Liverpool Centre of Sexual Health and HIV Tel: Textphone Number: NHS Choices (2010) Genital Warts. NHS Choices. ntroduction.aspx BASHH (2007) United Kingdom National Guideline on the Management of Anogenital Warts: Clinical Effectiveness Group (British Association for Sexual Health and HIV) Patient Information: Genital Warts. Family Planning Association. arts_genital_fpa.[accessed 6 th January 2011]

7 Author: Liverpool Centre of Sexual Health and HIV Review date: October 2017

8 All Trust approved information is available on request in alternative formats, including other languages, easy read, large print, audio, Braille, moon and electronically. A5/White

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