Genital warts

Don't be ignorant about this disease
Image by Nicki Varkevisser CC BY 2.0 Cropped

Risk - any sex with another

Often there are no symptoms

Street names

acuminate warts, venereal warts, condyloma

Facts about genital warts

Genital warts
  • Caused by a virus called human papilloma virus (HPV). Not all warts are the sexually transmitted kind and most are very common.
  • Many treatments but NO cures!
  • Warts may disappear but the virus remains inside of you.
  • Nothing over-the-counter works to remove genital warts, especially "wart removers"!
  • A doctor must cut them off, burn them off, or freeze them off…and then the warts still come back later and are carried for a lifetime.
  • There is a clear association with genital warts and deadly cervical cancer in women! A vaccine for HPV is now available for girls and women.


  • 40 million people carry the HPV virus in the U.S. About 1 million people get infected yearly.
  • Infection stays in one spot on the body, like Herpes.
  • Most often spread during sex.
  • 40-80% of people exposed to the virus get infected (many with no symptoms and no visible warts).
  • Babies do NOT get it from their mothers.
  • Not spread by toilet seats, clothes, tubs, towels.


  • Virus lives in cells just under skin surface and often on the penis.
  • Persons with HPV may or may not grow warts from 3 weeks to 9 months after having sex with an infected person.


Genital warts
  • Warts on your penis may be tiny and flat or big and lumpy.
  • Begins as a small, hard spot at site of entry of the virus.
  • Genital warts may itch or bleed.
  • Usually 6mm (1/4 inch) across and 9mm (3/8 inch) high.
  • Might be no symptoms at all!


  • Only 100% completely safe option - choose not to have sex!
  • Condoms help, but the wart virus can be on skin not protected by the condom.
  • Always ask your doctor to check unusual warts regardless of where they are located.

Individual help

If you have further questions or concerns about STDs, ask Dr. Mike, an internationally known Clinical Microbiologist specializing in STDs. He has worked extensively with teenage boys and contributed all the information and STD images on the disease pages here.

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