Genital warts are caused by a virus. Whether your warts are visible or not, for most people the virus will clear up over time without the need for treatment.

If your warts are visible, they typically appear around the genital, anal and throat area.

Warts can appear years after coming into contact with the virus, therefore it doesn’t always mean that your current partner has cheated on you.


Most people who have the infection don’t develop visible warts and the virus tends to clear up without any treatment. They’re typically painless however, they may itch, cause inflammation or bleeding from the anus or urethra.

Symptoms include:

  • The warts themselves can range from small, fleshy bumps to large, cauliflower-like lumps
  • For women, warts tend to be found on the vulva, cervix, upper thighs and in/on your vagina/anus. For men, warts tend to be found on the penis, scrotum, urethra, upper thighs and on/in the anus


The type of treatment you'll be offered depends on what your warts are like. The doctor or nurse will discuss this with you.

  • cream or liquid: you can usually apply this to the warts yourself a few times a week for several weeks, but in some cases you may need to go to the clinic every week for a doctor or nurse to apply it – these treatments can cause soreness, irritation or a burning sensation
  • freezing: a doctor or nurse freezes the warts, usually every week for 4 weeks – this can cause soreness
  • surgery: a doctor or nurse can cut, burn or laser the warts off – this can cause irritation or scarring

It may take weeks or months for treatment to work, and the warts may come back. In some people the treatment does not work. Stopping smoking can reduce the chance of warts coming back – ask the doctor / nurse for advice.

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