Genital warts are caused by the human papilloma virus (HPV). Many people have HPV without symptoms, but some people experience warts on their vagina walls, anus, penis, lips and many other areas of their body.
Why you need to see a doctor if you have been at risk of HPV
HPV is very common and most people who have had sex have HPV. HPV can cause genital warts which can be uncomfortable for some people. HPV can also cause changes in cells which may lead to cancer.
HPV can be spread through genital contact without penetrative sex, so it is important to use a condom or dam and lubricant during other sexual activities as well as during vaginal, anal and oral sex, to reduce the risk of getting HPV.
In Victoria a HPV vaccine is available for free for all people in Year 7 at school. If you are above age 20, you can still get the HPV vaccine, but you will probably have to pay for it.
If you have had sex without a condom, you may be at risk of HPV or other STIs. You should go to a doctor to be tested. If you have visible warts the doctor can diagnose genital warts from seeing them.
Before, Pap Tests were available to Victorian women, but there is a new test called the cervical screening test. Women should have a cervical screening test 2 years after their last pap test and then every 5 years after that, even if they have no symptoms. Cervical screening tests can show the doctor if you have an HPV infection and if you are at risk of cervical cancer. Your doctor or some nurses can do cervical screening tests at their clinic.
Visible genital warts can be treated in different ways, including using creams, freezing or laser. Your doctor will decide the best option for you. HPV cannot be cured, so the warts may return.
For more information
Talk to your doctor or local health clinic.