Genital warts are among the most commonly encountered sexually transmitted infections these days. It is seen medically that close to all sexually active people, at some point in their lives, contract at least one type of HPV or human papillomavirus, which is the actual cause of genital warts. Women are seen to be likelier than men to develop this problem.

Like the name implies, genital warts are a problem affecting the moist tissue found in the genital area. They may sometimes look like flesh colored bumps, or can have the shape of a cauliflower. In a lot of the cases, these warts are too small to even see.

Just like the warts which appear on other parts of the body, genital warts are caused by HPV, which in some strains can also be a cause of cancer. There are vaccines which help stay protected against certain strains of this virus which affect a person’s genitals.


Where women are concerned, genital warts can appear and grow on top of the vulva. They can also grow on the vaginal walls, the area found between the anus and the external genitals, the cervix, and the anal canal. In men, genital warts can occur on the shaft or tip of the penis, on the anus, or on the scrotum. In case a person has had oral intercourse with an infected person, genital warts can also develop in the former’s throat or mouth. The main signs of genital warts include the following.

  • Small gray or flesh-colored swellings found in the genital area
  • Several warts found close together which appear in the shape of a cauliflower
  • Discomfort or itching in the genital area
  • Non-menstrual bleeding during or after intercourse

A lot of the times, genital warts can be so small as to not be discernible with the unaided eye. There are also instances where genital warts multiply and show up in large clusters. If you have a partner who has developed warts or bumps in their genital area, it is important to get them to see a doctor who also does free clinic HIV testing.


As stated earlier, it is the human papillomavirus or HPV that causes warts on or in the body. Over 40 separate strains have been found which specifically affect the area immediately surrounding and including the genitals. Genital HPV proliferates via sexual contact, but in most cases, the immune system is able to detect and kill off these viruses before the onset of even the mildest symptoms.

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    About the Author

    Dr. Ghassan M. Al-Jazayrly, MD

    A graduate of University of Aleppo Faculty of Medicine, Dr. Al-Jazayrly or, as he is colloquially known: Dr. AJ, is an oncologist and hematologist of a Complete Care Community Health Center (CCCHC) with more than 36 years of experience. In recent years, he’s been involved with a non profit organization known as Every Woman Counts (EWC) which provides free breast and cervical cancer screening and diagnostic services to California’s underserved populations in order to eliminate health disparities for low-income individuals.

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