Genital Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) infection is a sexually transmitted disease. Most who become infected with HPV will not have any symptoms and will clear the infection on their own.
With genital HPV infection, many do not even know they are infected. The virus lives in the skin or mucous membranes and usually causes no symptoms.
Some people get visible genital warts, or have pre-cancerous changes in the:
HPV infection can result in anal or genital cancers on very rare occasions.
Genital warts usually appear as soft, moist, pink, or flesh-colored swellings, usually in the genital area. They can be raised or flat, single or multiple, small or large, and sometimes cauliflower shaped.
These warts can appear on:
- in or around vagina or anus
After sexual contact with an infected person, warts may appear within weeks or months, or not at all.
Genital warts are diagnosed by visual inspection. Visible genital warts can be removed by applied medications or treatments performed by your doctor. Some individuals choose to forgo treatment to see if the warts will disappear on their own.
No treatment for genital warts is better than another, and no one treatment is ideal in all cases.
Most women are diagnosed with HPV on the basis of abnormal Pap Tests. A Pap test is the primary cancer-screening tool for cervical cancer or pre-cancerous changes in the cervix.
Also, a specific test is available to detect HPV DNA in women. This test may be used in women with mild Pap test abnormalities, or women over 30.
The results of HPV DNA testing can help determine if further tests or treatment are necessary. No HPV tests are available for men.
There is no “cure” for HPV infection, although the infection goes away on its own in most women.