As part of our series spotlighting STI’s, this month we’re looking at genital warts.
Sexually transmitted infections (STIs) are an infection that can be passed on between sexual partners during unprotected sexual contact. There are more than 25 STIs which can be spread by vaginal, anal or oral sex.
They are unfortunately common amongst all age groups, which is why it’s important to understand what they are, the symptoms you may experience and how they are .
It’s important to start breaking the stigma surrounding STIs by showing that they aren’t something to be embarrassed about and, in most cases, can be very simple and quick to get treated.
So, let’s have a look at what genital warts is and what you need to know about it.
What Are Genital Warts?
Genital warts are harmless little growths that can pop up in your nether regions. They’re caused by a called human papillomavirus (HPV), which is more common than you might think. HPV is spread through intimate skin-to-skin contact, including vaginal and anal sex, and some types can lead to genital warts. It’s a bit like the common cold of the STI world – incredibly widespread.
Spotting the Signs: What Are the Symptoms?
Genital warts can be passed on even when there are no visible warts. After you get the infection, it can take weeks or months before symptoms appear. Here are some of the signs and symptoms to look out for:
- One or more painless growths or lumps around your vagina, penis, or anus
- Itching or bleeding from your genitals or anus
- A change to your normal flow of pee that does not go away.
- A sexual partner who has genital warts, even if you do not have symptoms.
It’s worth noting though that not everyone who carries the virus will get symptoms. Make sure to get tested regularly.
Get Tested, Stay Informed: The Tests You Can Take
Getting tested is super important, especially if you suspect you might have genital warts. At Essex Sexual Health Service, we offer a visual examination that you can book via our online portal. These are confidential, non-judgmental, and friendly. Here are a couple of ways you can get tested:
- Visual Examination: A healthcare provider will take a look at your genital area to check for warts. It’s usually quick and straightforward.
Remember, early detection is key, and if you ever have any concerns, it’s best to get checked out rather than later. Most genital warts resolve over time, usually around 18 months to 2 years. The treatments that Essex Sexual Health Service offer will accelerate the process.
Getting Rid of Those Warts: Treatment Options
The good news is that genital warts can be treated! There are a few options, depending on the size, location, and your personal history. Essex Sexual Health Service can guide you through these options, but here’s the scoop:
- Creams or Solutions: Your provider might prescribe a cream or solution that you can apply at home.
- Cryotherapy: This is a fancy word for freezing the warts with liquid nitrogen. This treatment usually takes 3 – 6 weeks.
- Surgical Removal: Surgical removals are very rare and only for quite large warts. You will be referred to the hospital for such treatment.
- Laser or Electrocautery: These methods use high-energy beams to burn off the warts. Essex Sexual Health Service does not offer this treatment however these can be offered privately to you.
- Vaccinations: Sometimes, your immune system needs a little boost to tackle the virus.. Children over 13 years receive the HPV vaccine to help build immunity from this strain as well as others virus.
Remember, treatment can help remove the warts, but it doesn’t cure HPV. Your immune system will work to suppress the virus over time.
Prevention is Key: Protect Yourself
Now, let’s talk about prevention because an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Protecting yourself and your partner is crucial. Here are some tips:
- Safe Sex: Consistently using condoms during sexual activities, vaginal, anal or oral, can reduce the risk of HPV transmission. Not sharing sex toys will also aid in the prevention.
- Regular Check-Ups: Stay on top of your sexual health with regular check-ups. Essex Sexual Health Service is here to support you.
So, there you have it, the lowdown on genital warts – what they are, the symptoms, testing, and treatment. Remember, it’s essential to take care of your sexual health, and there’s no shame in seeking help or information. Essex Sexual Health Service is here for you, offering a safe and friendly environment.
Stay informed, stay safe, and take care of yourself – because your health matters! 💪
For more information and resources, visit the Essex Sexual Health Service website. We’ve got your back when it comes to sexual health.