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HealthInfo Canterbury

Genital warts

Genital warts are caused by the human papilloma virus (HPV), which is passed on by skin to skin contact. Most sexually active people get HPV and most have no symptoms.

HPV can cause visible warts around the genital area or anus (bottom).

Diagnosing genital warts

Genital warts are diagnosed from the way they look.

If you have genital warts, it's a good idea to get tested for other sexually transmitted infections (STIs) at your GP, Sexual Health Centre, Family Planning Clinic, or school clinic.

Treating genital warts

Like other warts, genital warts often go away by themselves. There are treatments, such as freezing or cream that can make the warts go away quicker. The HPV virus will still be in your skin, so warts can come back.

Sometimes, the HPV virus can cause skin cell changes that can cause cancer including cervical cancer if untreated.

Women having a cervical cancer check can find HPV before it causes problems. There's currently no HPV test for men.

The HPV vaccine can protect you against some types of the HPV virus that cause warts. The injection is free for young women and men in New Zealand from the ages of 9 to 26, but you can have it at any age.

Condoms offer some protection but can't protect other areas where your skin comes into contact.

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Written by HealthInfo clinical advisers. Last reviewed February 2019.

See also:

Telling your sexual partner (partner notification)

Page reference: 53224

Review key: HIGEW-53224