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There are a range of bugs and viruses that you can catch during sex. Learn about Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs), how to prevent them, how to diagnose them and how they are treated.

Genital Warts

What is it?

Genital warts are caused by certain strains of the human papillomavirus (HPV). Genital warts can appear around the genitals and anus, or sometimes inside the vagina, front-hole, rectum or opening of your cock (urethra).

Not all strains of HPV cause genital warts. Some strains of HPV can cause cancers affecting the cervix, throat, anus, rectum, cock, vagina, front-hole or vulva.

How do you get it?

You can only get HPV from someone who has HPV — by skin-to-skin contact during oral, anal, vaginal or front-hole sex. This can be through direct contact with a visible wart or contact with genital skin where the virus is present.

It is estimated around 80 per cent of sexually active adults will come in to contact with HPV at some stage.

What are the symptoms?

Most people don’t have any symptoms when they get HPV, which means you can have HPV and not know about it. If you do get genital warts, they can appear within a few weeks or may take months to appear after getting HPV.

Common symptoms may include:

  • Painless growths or bumps around the cock, balls, arse, vagina or front-hole which can vary in appearance, size and number, but can sometimes cluster together taking a cauliflower-like formation
  • Itching, pain or bleeding from your cock, arse, vagina or front-hole
Diagnosis and treatment

A doctor diagnoses genital warts by viewing them or with a cervical screening test.

Treating genital warts can involve freezing or burning them off, laser treatments, or applying a topical cream.

How do you prevent it?

Apart from not having any sex or intimate skin-to-skin contact, the most effective way to prevent genital warts is to be vaccinated against HPV. The HPV vaccine works best before you acquire any strains of HPV — this is before you become sexually active. Vaccination still has protective benefits against strains you may not have come in to contact with yet, including those that cause genital warts and some cancers.

Use condoms, dams and gloves during oral, anal, vaginal or front-hole sex, and avoid contact with any noticeable genital warts.