Myths and Truths About Warts
Warts is a condition associated with many prejudices regarding people's sexual behaviour, which is why patients are filled with awkwardness, shame, and sometimes fear, as there is a lot of misinformation. The truth is that studies have shown that about 85% of sexually active women up to the age of 25 have come into contact with the HPV virus.
Here are the most common questions about warts, so you know what is true and what is a myth:
What are warts? How do I recognize them?
Warts are small lumps in the colour of the skin, grey or white with a rough texture. Initially, they start as imperceptible, soft, and small lumps that go unnoticed and may mistakenly be considered pimples or moles (common moles). When they develop, they usually have a cauliflower-like shape, but they can also be flat. Sometimes they appear in groups at different points in the area. They usually do not hurt and only rarely can cause symptoms such as:
- Mild bleeding
- Itching, tingling, or irritation of the genitals
- Burning sensation
- Pain during sexual intercourse or urination
When do warts appear?
Some people develop genital warts within a few weeks of sexual contact with someone with the HPV virus, but it may take months or even years to appear.
If I have HPV, will I definitely have warts?
No. It is very likely that you have the virus but do not have warts. Also, you may have internal warts in the rectum or vagina and not know it.
Can I get genital warts more than once?
Yes. If you have been infected with a type of HPV that causes warts, there is no permanent cure. Therefore, you may develop warts more than once, even if you have received treatment for their removal. This usually happens when our immune system fails to adequately suppress the action of the virus.
Do warts cause cancer?
No. The types of HPV that cause cancer are high-risk and are not the same as those that cause warts, which are typically low-risk. This, of course, does not mean that it is impossible to contract another type of virus associated with the appearance of precancerous lesions or cancer.
Can I transmit the human papillomavirus HPV and warts after completing treatment?
Yes. Infection from types of HPV that cause warts is likely lifelong. The fewer the lesions, the lower the viral load, and therefore the likelihood of transmitting the HPV virus.
HPV Vaccine: A Unique Weapon Against Cervical Cancer
The HPV vaccine is one of the few weapons we have to eliminate the virus. In Greece, it is administered free of charge, through the national vaccination program, to girls and teenagers from 11 to 18 years old, as well as to adults up to 26 years old who belong to higher-risk categories, such as patients with HIV, autoimmune diseases, or who have undergone transplantation.
The vaccine protects against types of the virus that cause warts, precancerous lesions, and cancer in the cervix. Even if you have already been infected with some type of HPV, the vaccine will protect you from all other types dangerous to your health. Unfortunately, in Greece, the vaccination rate remains low (40% of girls aged 11-18 have been vaccinated, according to 2020 data).
How We Can Help You
If you have lesions that look like warts, have been informed that a sexual partner has HPV, want to get vaccinated, or want to be informed about HPV and warts, it is important to visit us. We will help you overcome the awkwardness and shame that may accompany you and will answer all your questions with absolute confidentiality.
Beyond diagnosis and treatment, knowledge about safe sex and the particular characteristics of the human papillomavirus and warts are the most important elements to enjoying sex, and protecting yourself and your partners.