Genital Warts Singapore | Shim Clinic

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What Are Genital Warts?

While sometimes considered a less serious condition than other sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), genital warts can be troublesome. This is one of the most common types of infections passed from one person to another via sexual contact. In fact, studies show that nearly all sexually active people will get at least one type of the human papillomavirus (HPV) that causes genital warts.

Whenever an infection occurs, genital warts could appear. These affect the soft tissues in the genital area. The warts themselves can have different shapes and sizes. Most often, they look like little flesh-coloured bumps. It’s also possible for the warts to be so tiny that they would remain undetected.

Even if they’re bigger, these growths are completely painless. Even if that’s the case, warts can be removed and there are things that an individual can do to prevent transmission to a sexual partner.

Genital warts need to be taken seriously, regardless of their harmless appearance. HPV, the virus that causes genital warts, is the one that leads to the vast majority of cervical cancer cases. Cancer development is mainly possible whenever a high risk viral strain is passed from one person to another. Even then, screening procedures like getting regular Pap smears reduce the risk of cervical cancer developing and progressing.

What Causes Genital Warts?

The human papillomavirus has over 40 strains. Most of these affect the genital region but only a few cause the appearance of genital warts.

In most cases, the immune system is capable of supressing the virus. Hence, people who have contracted it wouldn’t experience complications. Even the appearance of genital warts isn’t that common, given the fact that HPV is highly transmissible and present in large segments of the population.

Some people who have been infected will never get warts.

An event that causes the immune system to become weakened, however, could contribute to the appearance of warts. This is why they’re more common in pregnant women than they are in other females.

The types of HPV that cause warts in the genital region aren’t the same viral strains that can cause the appearance of warts on other parts of the body. Some strains that can cause genital warts can also increase the risk of developing cervical cancer.

How Can You Get Genital Warts?

HPV can be passed on during all kinds of sexual activity.

You can get human papillomavirus through vaginal, anal or oral sex. Depending on the point of viral entry, the warts may appear on and around the anus, around the vulva, in the mouth and throat or on the penis and scrotum.

An infection is also possible through skin-to-skin contact. The virus may also pass from a mother to her baby during childbirth.

All sexually active individuals are at a risk of contracting HPV and developing genital warts. There are certain risk factors that increase the risk of an infection:

  • Having multiple sexual partners
  • Being in the age group under 30
  • Having a compromised or weakened immune system
  • Being a smoker
  • Getting pregnant
  • Having a history of prior STDs
  • Having unprotected sex (without the use of condoms or other kinds of barrier contraception) regularly

Symptoms and Potential Complications

It’s possible for genital warts to develop weeks or even months after the initial infection occurs. Also, the warts aren’t always visible because of their size. It’s very likely for someone to have been infected for years without actually knowing it.

For women, the symptoms of having genital warts include:

  • The appearance of warts around the vulva
  • The appearance of warts inside the vagina
  • Vaginal discharge (unusual consistency, colour or smell)
  • Itching
  • Bleeding
  • A burning sensation during sex or urination

For men, the most common symptoms of having genital warts include:

  • The appearance of warts on the penis
  • The appearance of warts on the scrotum or groin
  • As the warts get bigger, they may start feeling uncomfortable or even painful

It’s important for warts to be diagnosed and treated in a timely manner. This is especially vital for warts that affect the cervix. In time, an infection that hasn’t been addressed can cause dysplasia (changes to the cervix) that will eventually progress to cervical cancer.

Studies show that over 90 per cent of cervical and anal cancer cases are caused by an HPV infection. The same applies to 70 per cent of vaginal or vulvar cancer cases and to 60 per cent of penile cancer cases.

Getting Tested for Genital Warts

Genital warts are instantly recognisable. Doctors will know what they are by looking at the appearance of the little bumps.

HPV screening tests have also become available. These can be used to determine exactly what strain of HPV you have. If you’ve been infected with one of the high risk strains, you’ll need to be a bit more meticulous when it comes to cervical cancer screening.

Speaking of cervical cancer screening, this is one of the most important types of tests to get if you are sexually active.

Cervical cancer screening occurs in the form of a Pap smear. A small cell sample is collected from the cervix. The sample is examined for unusual cellular changes (dysplasia) that could be indicative of an active infection and an increased cancer risk.

Pap smears are recommended every three years for women aged 21 to 65 who haven’t had a bad test result before. Whenever a Pap smear is combined with testing for HPV strains, the procedure can be performed once every five years.

Genital Warts Treatment

There are several things that can be done to treat genital warts. The aim of such treatments is to remove the warts themselves. For the purpose, laser treatments, freezing, ointments and surgery can all be utilised.

Depending on the location and your condition, genital warts could also be left on their own. In some instances, the removal can leave scars or be painful. That’s why case-by-case considerations are made to determine the right course of action.

Because genital warts are caused by HPV and treatments for viruses don’t exist, it’s possible for the warts to come back after they’ve been removed.

It’s also possible for the warts to disappear on their own and without a treatment. This will usually happen over the course of many months. Even if they disappear, the warts can come back again in time.

Genital warts themselves aren’t cancer but some of the HPV strains that cause warts could also lead to cancer.

If you get a Pap smear with troublesome results, colposcopy could be performed.  A colposcope is used for the more thorough visual examination of the cervix. In the event of spotting pre-cancerous changes, cryosurgery or conisation could be prescribed as the best course of action.

Preventing Genital Warts

Genital warts prevention is similar to other good practices aimed at reducing the risk of getting or passing STDs.

Some of the things to focus on include:

  • Getting the HPV vaccine, especially if you’re younger and you are not sexually active yet
  • Having protected sex with one partner
  • Getting tested for STDs regularly
  • Telling your sexual partner if you have visible genital warts and deciding on the best course of action together
  • Refraining from having sex while undergoing treatment for genital warts (and in the few weeks after)

Contact Shim Clinic to Get Tested and Vaccinated!

At Shim Clinic, you can get tested for some of the most prominent kinds of STDs. We can also suggest vaccination and give you more information about available vaccines and how they work. Get tested and treated for genital warts with us.  Contact Shim Clinic now to get the details.



Sexual risk (of HIV/STD/pregnancy), and what you can do before and after exposure.

Timeline HIV STD Pregnancy
Before exposure
Abstain from sex, Be faithful, or Condom use
Circumcision (males only)
Contraception
(females only)
HIV PrEP (pre-exposure prophylaxis)
– Stop HIV infection before exposure
STD vaccine:
Hepatitis vaccine
HPV vaccine
STD / HIV exposure
Unsafe sex / unprotected sex:
No condom / Condom broke / Condom slip
0-72 hours HIV PEP (post-exposure prophylaxis)
– Stop HIV infection after exposure
STD testing *
Screening test
– to look for asymptomatic infections
– from previous exposures
Emergency contraception
with the
morning-after pill
(females only)
2 weeks HIV DNA Test
1 month HIV 4th Generation Test
SD Bioline HIV Ag/Ab Combo
– Fingerprick blood sampling.
20 minutes to results
3 months HIV 3rd Generation Test
OraQuick® HIV-1/2 Antibody
– Oral fluid or
– Fingerprick blood sampling.
20 minutes to results
STD testing *
– Full & comprehensive
diagnostic test
– to look for current infections
Watch for HIV Symptoms STD Symptoms
If infected HIV Treatment STD Treatment Abortion

* Males: Do not urinate for at least 4 hours before arriving.
* Females: testing is more accurate when you are not menstruating.

References

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