Genital Warts

Genital warts are small fleshy lumps that can grow around the anal and genital region in men and women. Such warts are rarely found in the mouth. The types of wart virus found on the genital area are different from those found on the hands or rest of the body and will not infect the genital area or vice versa. Infection with genital wart virus is common. The virus is most often sexually transmitted and therefore it can occur any time after your first sexual experience. About two thirds of sexual partners will develop warts. Those that do not develop obvious warts may still be infected with the virus. Genital warts can occur in pregnancy, even in women with no previous history of them. They can also come back in pregnant women who have had them treated before. The virus can be passed from mother to baby at birth.


Common treatments used are: • Freezing the warts. • Applying certain creams or liquids. • Burning the warts using electrical heat or laser. Even though warts are removed, some of the virus may stay alive in the skin and cause more warts. This means more than one treatment may be needed to get rid of all the visible warts. Don’t use over-the-counter treatments for warts on sensitive genital skin.

Do genital warts cause cancer?

Genital wart virus (human papillomavirus, HPV) is found in certain cancers. This has been mostly studied in cervical cancer where certain types of genital wart virus are consistently found. HPV virus triggers the formation of abnormal cells which develop into cancer over a long period of time. Smoking has been shown to act in combination with genital wart virus and increase the chance of abnormal cell development and/or cancer.

This page was last updated at 12:00PM on February 18, 2019.