Genital Warts (HPV): Symptoms, Diagnosis, Treatment & Complications

What are Genital Warts?

Genital warts are an extremely common sexually transmitted infection (STI) caused by select strains of the human papillomavirus (HPV). Genital warts are almost always transmitted via sexual intercourse.

How is Genital Warts (HPV) diagnosed?

Genital warts are generally diagnosed with a visual exam. Your physician may apply a vinegar solution (acetic acid) to cause smaller warts turn white and making them more obvious.


Genital warts are most commonly transmitted through sex:

  • Anal Sex
  • Oral Sex
  • Vaginal Sex

There is also the possibility of transmission through close skin on skin contact (usually also related to sex).

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Quick snapshot

Can it be cured?

No. Viruses don't have cures, but symptoms can be controlled with proper treatment.

Type of Infection

Viral. Genital warts are caused by certain strains of HPV, the human papillomavirus.

How is it treated?

Medicine or Surgery. There are a variety of treatment options including medications and surgery (freezing, burning, laser and physical removal).

Recovery Time

1 to 4 weeks. Recovery varies by type of treatment as well as size and location of the outbreak. Anywhere from 1-4 weeks should be expected.

Can I have sex?

No. Until the warts are gone, sexual activity should be avoided.

Can I get re-infected?

Yes. As the base cause of genital warts is an incurable virus, you can have recurrence of genital warts without a new infection.