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Genital warts are a sexually transmitted disease (STD) caused by the human papillomavirus (HPV). The warts usually appear as a small bump or group of bumps in the genital area. They are flesh-colored and can be flat or look bumpy like cauliflower. Some genital warts are so small you cannot see them. In women, the warts usually occur in or around the vagina, on the cervix, or around the anus. In men, genital warts are less common. They may have warts on the tip of the penis, around the anus, or on the scrotum, thigh, or groin.
You can get genital warts during oral, vaginal, or anal sex with an infected partner. Correct usage of latex condoms greatly reduces, but does not completely eliminate, the risk of catching or spreading HPV. If your or your partner is allergic to latex, you can use polyurethane condoms. The most reliable way to avoid infection is to not have anal, vaginal, or oral sex. HPV vaccines may help prevent some of the HPV infections that cause genital warts.
Your health care provider usually diagnoses genital warts by seeing them. The warts might disappear on their own. If not, your health care provider can treat or remove them. HPV stays in your body even after treatment, so warts can come back.
Dept. of Health and Human Services Office on Women's Health
- Genital Warts (Cleveland Clinic Foundation)
- Genital Warts (Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research) Also in Spanish
- Genital Warts (Department of Health and Human Services, Office on Women's Health) Also in Spanish
Prevention and Risk Factors
- HPV Vaccine (Nemours Foundation) Also in Spanish
- Vaccinating Boys and Girls (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)
- Anal Warts (American Society of Colon and Rectal Surgeons) Also in Spanish
- Genital Wart (Condyloma Acuminatum) (VisualDX)
- ClinicalTrials.gov: Condylomata Acuminata (National Institutes of Health)
Journal Articles References and abstracts from MEDLINE/PubMed (National Library of Medicine)
- Article: Trends of genital wart in Korea according to treatment method classification:...
- Article: Sexual dysfunction in women with genital warts: a systematic review.
- Article: HPV vaccination leads to decrease of anogenital warts and precancerous lesions...
- Genital Warts -- see more articles
Find an Expert
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Also in Spanish
- National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases
- Genital Warts (For Parents) (Nemours Foundation) Also in Spanish
- Genital Warts (HPV) (Nemours Foundation) Also in Spanish
- Condom Fact Sheet in Brief (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) - PDF Also in Spanish
- Genital warts (Medical Encyclopedia) Also in Spanish