If you’re one of the thousands of people living with genital warts today, we hope that you will feel comfortable reading this and even more importantly, hope that the information provided will benefit you in some way. We recognise that in today’s society it is still considered taboo to discuss sexually transmitted diseases in an open forum, but we hope to break down those barriers. You need not live in shame, or hide your condition to the point that you feel uncomfortable seeking treatment. Find solace in the fact that you are not alone and you have a good number of treatment options to consider as well.
Genital warts are an STI transmitted most commonly when someone has unprotected sex with a partner who is already infected. On one hand, people who end up contracting the disease are at least consoled by the knowledge that warts may not always appear visible on their genitals, making it easier to keep their condition as discrete as possible. On the other hand, this makes it incredibly difficult to determine if your sexual partner might have warts, if he or she is not entirely forthright with that information. We like to think of this conundrum as the double-edged sword of sexually transmitted diseases.
So, regardless of how it happened, you find you’ve recently contracted genital warts and now have dozens of questions racing through your mind and very few answers to help allay your fears. Will you ever be able to enjoy a normal sex life again? Will your genitals be permanently disfigured? Are you contagious? What other health risks should you be concerned about? Do you need to contact all previous sexual partners to let them know to get tested?
Life With Genital Warts
First of all, you need to know you can still enjoy a very full, fulfilling sex life going forward. Genital warts are unpleasant certainly, but they are by no means a sexual death sentence. For the most part, genital warts are considered an asymptomatic disease, which means other than the appearance of the warts themselves (which we know you find unsightly), you likely will not experience any other symptoms (i.e. no pain, no infection, etc). However, it is important to note that while there are a number of forms of treatment, which we will discuss momentarily, just removing the warts from the surface of the skin does not mean the virus itself has been eradicated. It is still possible to transmit to a sexual partner and there will likely still be traces of HPV (the genital wart virus) in your body.
When it comes to choosing a treatment regimen, the deciding factor tends to be the patients’ comfort level with exposing themselves to a physician. If you’d prefer to treat yourself in the privacy of your own home, there are several topical creams and gels that seem to work quite well. Warticon, Aldara and Condyline are three of the most commonly prescribed at-home genital warts treatments. Each comes with a specific set of instructions but research suggests that all three are equally effective.
If you prefer to have a physician administer treatment, you will have some other fun options to choose from. In addition to a bevy of topical ointment-type regimens, your doctor may also elect to use cryotherapy or surgery. Cryotherapy, or its more common vernacular “freezing the warts off” is when liquid nitrogen is used to isolate and effectively “kill” the warts so that they fall off. This method proves very effective, providing your physician is properly trained to perform the procedure. Trust us when we say you don’t want some clown applying liquid nitrogen to your genitals all willy nilly!
Surgical removal of the genital warts is also farily common and highly effective. It is typically a simple procedure and likely will require only a local anesthetic, as opposed to being fully anesthetized.
As with most things in this world, no one treatment option will work for every single person, every single time. Each of us has different comfort levels, different goals, and will react differently to new medications. For this reason, we highly encourage you to work with your doctor to figure out which method of the treatment is best suited to your needs.
Now, go take care of this and get yourself back in the game!