Causes of genital warts

Why am I getting growths on my genitals?

Genital warts are very common among skin diseases which affect both men and women. It is most common in people who are younger than thirty years of age. According to scientific sources, at least half of the population have been infected with genital warts at some point in their lives.

Major Cause of Genital Warts

Genital warts themselves are caused by the human papillomavirus (HPV). While individuals can contract the HPV virus quickly, often at times, the virus does not become active. In other words, an individual might contain HPV virus in his body, but his immune system would be strong enough to not let the virus activate itself. People with a weak immune system, or people suffering from secondary diseases such as diabetes, can be affected by aggressive genital warts more easily.

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Human Papilloma Virus

Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) is responsible for all kinds of warts. There are more than forty different kinds of HPV strains that are responsible for causing genital warts. However, around 90% of the genital warts are caused either by Strain 11 or Strain 6. HPV virus is the leading cause of cervical cancer if left untreated for a long time. It can also destroy the cervical cells and alter their physiology permanently. The viral strain 16 and strain 18 are considered as a higher risk for cervical cancers, while some other strains are considered intermediate at risk levels.

How Does the Virus Get into the Body?

Human papillomavirus is a sexually transmitted virus. It is transmitted from one individual to the other through oral, anal or normal sexual activity. For example, a woman who has genital warts inside her vaginal wall may transmit the virus on to her partner, who might contract warts on his penis. After having sex with the affected individual, the virus takes months to appear in the system. If the wart is serious and oozing liquid or blood, a simple contact is enough to transfer the virus from one person to the other. In some cases, there are reports of the virus transferring from the mother to the newborn during childbirth.

Risk Factors for Genital Warts

According to statistics, women aged between sixteen to nineteen, and men aged twenty to twenty-four, are more likely to suffer from genital warts at some point. The risk factors for genital warts include:

  • Engaging in sexual activity at an early age; the immune system in the body might not be strong enough to fight the HPV virus effectively at that age.
  • An unhealthy lifestyle with excessive consumption of alcohol, smoke and stress, leads to the weakening of the immune system.
  • Secondary infection with the HPV virus; the body fails to fight two sexually transmitted diseases at the same time.

Preventive Measures for Genital Warts

In order to reduce the chances of infection, individuals should take appropriate preventive measures.

  1. Use protection when engaging in sexual intercourse eg. condoms
  2. Avoid engaging in sex with frequently changing partners, that is, more than two partners per year.
  3. Even if you engage in non-penetrating sexual activity, such as oral sex, the proper form of protection should be used.
  4. Avoid having sex altogether if you suspect the presence of a wart in your partner

Oftentimes, the wart is located in a place that cannot be protected by a condom, such as the base of the penis or the scrotum. In these cases, the virus can be easily transmitted to the partner regardless of the protection. If there is no sexual activity, and just genital contact, the virus can still be transmitted.

Men and women are advised to maintain a healthy immune system and engage in healthy sexual activity. Women are also advised to go for regular cervical screening (smear test) to maintain good sexual health.

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