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Causes of Genital Warts?

 

Genital warts are among the most common sexually transmitted diseases. These warts appear as tiny flesh-colored bumps that are cauliflower-shaped. These warts may start as small lesions, around 2 millimeters in diameter, but may grow bigger and expand into larger masses. In women, they develop inside and outside the vagina, cervix, uterus, and around the anus. In men, they are found on the scrotum, penis shaft, and anus area. For both sexes, genital warts may manifest in the mouth and throat areas when the person has engaged in sexual intercourse with an infected partner.

 

The virus that causes genital warts is called human papillomavirus (HPV). There are around 100 strains of HPV but only 30 of these can infect the genital area. These strains are called genital HPV, which can infect about 50 percent of men and women who are sexually active.

 

There are two types of HPV: high-risk and low-risk. High-risk types of HPV can cause cancer of the cervix, vagina, anus, penis or throat. They are not related to those that cause genital warts. Type 16 of HPV is related to around 50 percent of all cervical cancer cases. Types 16, 18, 31, and 45 all together are responsible for 80 percent of cases.

 

Low-risk types are those that lead to genital warts. Specifically, around 90 percent of genital warts cases result from types 6 and 11 of HPV. Low-risk types are often difficult to detect because they don’t exhibit any symptoms. A lot of people are carriers of low-risk HPV but they remain unaware of it. Because of this, the risk of transmitting them is higher. Thus, it would be best to have regular check-ups in order to find out whether you have the virus.

 

The most common way by which genital warts can be transmitted is through sexual intercourse with a carrier. Experts estimate that around 66 percent of those who have sex with an infected partner will contract genital warts either through vaginal, oral, or anal sex.

 

Another avenue of transmission is through childbirth. When the baby passes through an infected birth canal, there is a chance that he/she will develop warts in the mouth and throat called laryngeal papillomatosis.

 

Although there is still no hard scientific proof, genital warts can also be transmitted through fomites, which are objects that carry viruses from one person to another. Examples of fomites are contaminated medical equipment and personal items such as bath towels.

 

The incidence of genital warts and other complications of HPV can be increased by several risk factors. These include becoming sexually active early, having multiple sex partners, having other sexually transmitted diseases in the past, and having sexual relations with a partner whose sexual history you are not aware of.

 

The use of birth control pills and other oral contraceptives also increases the chances of getting genital warts because of increased unprotected sexual intercourse. Excessive stress, smoking, and alcohol consumption may also increase the chances of contracting genital warts. Furthermore, having a compromised immune system also raises the risk of genital warts. Thus, those who have experienced trauma in the form of surgery and serious illnesses such as cervical cancer will most likely get infected.  

 

 

Next: Are Genital Warts Curable?

Causes of Genital Warts

HPV Virus