Some genital warts are too small and require examination with great magnification for identification.
Genital warts are one of the most common types of sexually transmitted infections. Caused by the human papillomavirus (HPV), they develop on the moist tissues of the genital area. The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that at least half of all sexually active people will become infected with genital HPV at some point during their lives.
Factors that can increase HPV infection risk include:
• Becoming sexually active at a young age
(1 year after menarche or onset of menses)
• Intercourse with a partner whose sexual history you don’t know
• Having unprotected sex with multiple partners
• Having had another sexually transmitted infection
Genital warts may look like small, flesh-colored bumps or have a cauliflower-like appearance; in many cases, they are too small to be visible to the naked eye. They may cause itching or discomfort and bleeding during intercourse.
In women, genital warts can grow on the vulva, the walls of the vagina, the area between the external genitals and the anus, and the cervix. In men, genital warts may develop on the tip or shaft of the penis, the scrotum, or the anus.
Vaccines can help protect against certain strains of genital HPV that cause genital warts.
Genital warts could enlarge and cause difficulty in urinating. They may also cause problems during pregnancy. Warts on the vaginal wall may reduce the ability of vaginal tissues to stretch during childbirth. Rarely, a baby born to a mother with genital warts may develop warts in the throat and require emergency surgery to prevent airway obstruction.
Special microscope to detect genital warts
Although many genital warts are visible to the naked eye, some are too small and require examination with great magnification for identification. The doctor may apply a mild acetic acid solution to the genitals to whiten any warts. Then, he or she may view them through a special microscope called a “colposcope”. A colposcope has up to 40 times magnification power. In women, the procedure is called colposcopy; in men, it is called androscopy.
Once genital warts are identified, these may be biopsied to confirm the diagnosis. Treatment options include prescription medicated creams, cryotherapy, electrocautery, surgical incision, and laser treatment.
The Genesis Center of the Asian Hospital and Medical Center has a multidisciplinary team of topnotch specialists that utilizes state-of-the-art equipment to diagnose and manage various reproductive health problems, including genital warts. The Center performs both colposcopy and androscopy.
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