Health Department

Joel Strasz - Public Health Director
Kathy Janer - Public Health Nursing Manager
Melissa Maillette - Emergency Preparedness & Health Education Manager
Amy Revette - WIC Manager
Mark Pickell - Business Services Manager
Joel Kwiatkowski - Environmental Health Manager
Dr. Kirk Herrick - Medical Director
Dr. Howard Hurt - Medical Examiner
Bay County Health Department
1200 Washington Avenue
Bay City, Michigan 48708
Voice: (989) 895-4009
Fax: (989) 895-4014
TDD/TTL: (989) 895-4049
Health Information Line: (989) 895-4192

Genital Warts

Condyloma is an ancient Greek word meaning "knob" or "round tumor".  Condylomata acuminata is the name for warts which appear on the genital organs.  They are also called venereal or genital warts.

Warts on the genital organs are caused by a virus call the human papillomavirus (HPV).  More than 20 types of HPV can infect the genital tract.

Genital warts is one of the most common sexually transmitted diseases (STD).  Most HPV infections don't have symptoms or are not recognized.  The warts are painless growths seen in moist areas in and around the sex organs and the rectum.  In men the most commonly affected areas are the penis and scrotum.  In women, genital warts most commonly appear on the bottom part of the vaginal opening.  The vaginal lips, the deep parts of the vagina and the cervix can all be affected.  The warts may also be found around the rectum of people who have had anal sex, or in the throat of people who have oral sex.

The physical appearance of genital warts depends to some extent on the part of the genitals affected.  In moist areas, the warts are usually pink or red with a soft cauliflower-like appearance.  Warts can be single or multiple.  Groups of warts can grow together to form a single large tissue mass.  On dry skin, the warts are usually small, hard, and yellow-gray.  They look like ordinary skin warts that appear on other parts of the body.

Genital warts tend to grow larger if they are kept moist by discharge from the vagina or urethra (tube that leads from the bladder).  During pregnancy genital warts may grow quite large.

TRANSMISSION  

Genital warts can usually be diagnosed by the way they look.  Colposcopy (microscopic examination) is necessary to diagnose flat warts on the cervix.

Once you get genital warts, the possibility of getting them again increases.  It is not uncommon for them to come back even after adequate treatment.

TREATMENT

If you have genital warts, it is important to be evaluated right away.  The treatment you receive will depend on how severe the infection is and where it is located.

Because there is a connection between genital warts and cancer of the cervix, a yearly pap smear and frequent genital self-exams are very important.  HPV infection is a chronic condition.  No therapy has been shown to eliminate the virus.  In 80% of cases, HPV recurs.

PREVENTION

Use of a condom (rubber) during sexual intercourse is the best way to help prevent getting some sexually transmitted diseases (infection).  There is evidence to conclude condoms prevent HIV transmission in males and females, and that they could reduce the risk of Gonorrhea for men.   Additional studies are needed to determine effectiveness for other STDs, including Genital Warts.

The more sexual partners you have, the greater your chance of getting an infection.

Do not have intercourse with anyone who has an infection or is being treated for an infection.

Do not use feminine sprays or douches.  They can change the normal balance of bacteria in the vagina and increase your chances of getting a vaginal infection.