This is a common worry with people diagnosed with genital warts as they are visible and generally people with them do not want them!
Have you had them diagnosed by a professional because this is essential to ensure they are the problem? Other things can be mistaken for warts and sometimes it is just a person’s normal anatomy.
Genital warts are extremely common and they are caused by a virus called the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV). There are numerous types of this virus and the majority of types are harmless.
There is a vaccination called Gardasil which is offered to all girls between the ages of 12 years up to their 18th birthday. This vaccine protects against the two Human Papilloma Virus types (16 and 18) that cause over 70% of cervical cancer, Gardasil also protects against the two HPV types (6 and 11) that cause about 90% of the cases of genital warts. Gardasil is used to prevent infection from happening in the first place, but even if a person already has a type of HPV infection, Gardasil can still protect against diseases caused by other HPV types. It does not protect against infections such as chlamydia and it won’t stop you getting pregnant so it is very important to find out about safer sex information before beginning a sexual relationship.
You and your boyfriend need to understand that this is not a serious condition and the warts will disappear in time with any treatment you have been given. The primary goal of treatment is to speed the clearance of symptomatic warts. Giving no treatment is also an option since warts will clear spontaneously.
It may be helpful for you and your boyfriend to attend the GUM clinic together to have a chat with one of the nurses. This will give you both the opportunity to ask any questions and also to be advised how best to avoid passing the wart virus on. The best protection against any STI’s is condoms however this may not prevent the transmission of HPV as this is acquired through skin-to-skin contact and during sexual activity.
It is useful to know that the majority of people who have the virus will show no symptoms, which is sometimes confusing for couples. The symptoms can also appear many months and sometimes years after they acquired the virus. It is always worth considering a full sexual health check up to exclude any other infections, which may not show symptoms e. g. Chlamydia. Perhaps you and your boyfriend should both have a check-up.
Some facts about HPV worth knowing:
- An individual’s lifetime risk of HPV infection exceeds 50% but most have no symptoms with only about 1-2% developing genital warts.
- About 90% of genital warts are caused by infection with HPV types 6 and 11. These types are not associated with a significant risk of developing cancer, which a lot of people worry about.
- Types 16 and 18 are the types most associated with any health risks but only 10% of genital warts are caused by these.
With the right information and support you should be able to talk to your boyfriend before embarking on any sexual activity to make sure you are both comfortable with it. The GUM clinic sees many people who feel exactly the way you do right now. Some people prefer to delay having sex until the visible warts have gone, while others continue to have sex with their partners, it is a personal choice. The following website may be useful: Patient.co.uk for both of you to look at.
If you need an appointment the GUM clinic can be contacted on: 650710. Try not to panic, talk to someone who can help and you will probably feel a lot better about the situation.