Genital warts is a very unfortunate occurrence, it acts as a silent terror that disrupts the lives of the people it resides in. Disturbingly over the past thirty years genital warts has become very common, in fact, a vast majority of sexually active adults will get genital warts at some point (sometimes without their knowledge until it appears later, or may simply go away by itself). Genital warts are less common in older individuals, with 15-40% of those infected being under the age of 40 years old.
What is Genital Warts?
Genital warts is one form of the HPV (human papillomavirus) that is transmitted via skin to skin contact, most often via sexual partners, it is highly contagious. Despite common knowledge in regards to HPV, there are actually 40 different types of HPV that can have various symptoms, and sometimes deadly consequences. Genital warts (type 6 and 11 of HPV), is not to be confused with the form of HPV that causes cervical cancer (type 16 and 18).
If an individual has genital warts it is extremely unlikely that they will get cervical cancer, and vice versa, because the two different types of HPV do not occur simultaneously. Another interesting fact is that the HPV type 6 and 11 that causes genital warts, can also cause both nasal, conjunctival, laryngeal and oral warts as well.
As surprising as it may seem, a individual who is infected with genital warts can go as long as weeks, months or even years before visible symptoms appear. This is called the latency period where the infection quietly resides in the persons system, during this period even though there are no physical signs that person is still very contagious. In fact, if the person has sex during this latency period their partner has a 70% likelihood that they will get infected also. Pretty scary right? What is even more concerning is that, 1 in 5 people with genital warts often have some other sort of HPV infection that they may not know about.
Preventing Genital Warts
At this point, you are probably wondering how can I prevent getting genital warts? The key to prevention is being very careful how, and with whom you have sexual relations with. Condoms are certainly helpful in prevention, studies have shown that condoms help about half of the time, this is dependent on whether there are other bare areas exposed, such as the scrotum that could touch and infect the other partner.
There is no doubt that genital warts can be physically painful, medically stressful and damaging to ones sexual interactions. When it comes to sex most people are often mainly concerned about pregnancy. While this is a valid concern, there should be more awareness about the importance of being responsible about not contracting a horrible STD such as the HPV genital warts.