Picture this: you wake up one morning, go through your usual hygiene regimen, and in the course of your routine surprisingly detect an unusual lumpy cluster in your private area. If it turns out to be warts, then yours is a problem shared by about 32 million people diagnosed with the disease each year. “warts are more common than people think and a concern that goes beyond aesthetics,” said Dr. Jennifer Co, an Obstetrics-Infectious Disease Specialist at FEU-NRMF Medical Center. “Warts are the most common viral sexually transmitted infection (STI) with its incidence increasing by 34% among males and 18% among females in the last ten years (according to UK data). in the US, up to one million new cases are reported annually and the average cost of treatment per year is 171 million dollars,” elaborated by Dr. Co.
Also known as venereal warts, warts are caused by certain types of the human papillomavirus (HPV). more than 40 types of HPV affect the private areas of females and males. While some HPV types may cause warts, other HPV types may cause cervical cancer as well as the less common but serious cancers of the vagina, vulva, penis, anus, and head and neck (tongue, tonsils and throat).
HPV can be transmitted through sexual intercourse, oral sex, or even mere skin-to-skin contact of the private area (non-penetrative sex). According to US data, at least 50% of sexually active people will get HPV in their lifetime, and majority of them would not even know they have it since there are no symptoms. most HPV infections will be cleared by the body’s immune system but for those that persist, certain HPV-related diseases may develop such as warts.
Warts usually appear one to six months after contact with an infected partner (even if the infected partner has no signs and symptoms), starting out as tiny, soft, moist, pink or gray growths. They develop rapidly and become rough, irregular bumps, which sometimes grow out from the skin on narrow stalks. Warts often grow in clusters with their rough surfaces making them look like a small cauliflower.
“In men, warts manifest on the penis, especially under the foreskin in uncircumcised men, or in the urethra. in women, they occur on the vulva, vaginal wall, cervix, and skin around the vaginal area. Warts may also develop in the area around the anus and in the rectum, especially in people who engage in anal sex,” said Dr. Co.
If left untreated, warts may either go away, remain unchanged, or increase in size and number. in some cases, however, warts can be difficult to treat because of episodes of recurrence.
Warts are highly transmissible – more than 75% of people coming into contact with warts develop the disease. Condom use does not guarantee total protection as condoms do not cover all areas that may be infected by HPV during sex. Mutual monogamy, on the other hand, effectively reduces the risk of infection. however, even people with only one lifetime partner can still get HPV if their partner has had previous sexual relations.
Here are some tips on how to manage, or better yet, prevent the disease from occurring in the first place, finding the best way to get rid of warts is a challenge there are both medical and supplement options.
Abstinence. Foregoing sexual activity is one of the best ways to prevent getting warts. This involves abstaining not only from penetrative sex, but from oral, genital-to-genital, and hand-to-genital contacts or non-penetrative sexual acts as well.
See a doctor. once you suspect having genital warts, immediately seek medical advice. It is best to consult your doctor for them to rule out any possible serious health problem, and for the doctor to advise you on treating and managing the disease. You should also have your partner examined for HPV-related diseases and treated accordingly.
Improve immunity. a healthy immune system often clears HPV and stops it from causing symptoms or health problems. one way to help boost immunity against HPV is through vaccination. a quadrivalent HPV vaccine, an HPV vaccine for both males and females, helps protect against genital warts, cervical cancer, vaginal cancer, and vulvar cancer. It can be availed of only upon the prescription of a doctor. It does not treat existing genital warts, cervical, vulvar and vaginal cancers. It is delivered in 3 separate intramuscular injections over six months. Women should avoid pregnancy during the course of the vaccination.
To know more about warts and HPV prevention, consult your doctor as soon as possible.