How To Know If You Have Genital Warts?

A sexually active lifestyle involving multiple partners and little concern for protection against sexually transmitted diseases can result in various ailments and one of those is genital warts. Genital warts are caused by the human papillomavirus or what is commonly known as HPV. This virus is transmitted from one person to the other during sex and the warts that present themselves as a result of HPV infection are rarely itchy or painful. The genital areas of men and women are prone to lesions and rashes and not all of these lesions and rashes are genital warts, which is why it is important to understand the nature of HPV and genital warts. This article aims to shed light on the subject; read further to know more.

How To Know If You Have Genital Warts?

How to Know if a Woman has Genital Warts?

In women; genital warts caused by HPV present themselves around the anus, vagina or on the cervix. The warts present as a single bump or a cluster that is reddish or white in color; however, they do not always appear on external surfaces. As mentioned before; these genital warts in women may also be present on the cervix.

Additionally; genital warts in women may often be present inside the vagina or the anus of women. Bearing in mind that these genital warts are not always visible in plain sight; one must also make note of the fact that HPV infection may not always result in warts. Oral sex can also lead to HPV infection and since the transmission of this virus is mainly centered on skin to skin contact; HPV transmission caused by oral sex often results in genital warts around the mouth area, which is the lips, tongue and palate of a woman.

How to Know If a Man Has Genital Warts?

In men; genital warts tend to show up around the penile area including, but not limited to the scrotum, groin, within the penile shaft and sometimes even on the area surrounding the anus and within the anus. As with women; genital warts in men are rarely itchy or painful, but may result in slight discomfort and even bleeding if you scratch them. Additionally; genital warts around the mouth, on the lips, tongue or palate are even common in men who indulge in oral sex with HPV infected partners. Just like women; genital warts in men may not always be visible in plain sight as they may present within the anus or the penile shaft and as mentioned before; HPV infection may not result in genital warts in many cases.

When to Consult a Doctor for Genital Warts

Unprotected sex can lead to an HPV infection that may or may not result in warts. Bearing in mind that warts do not always present on visible surfaces of the body or some other lesion or rash could be mistaken for a genital wart; one needs to consult a doctor as and when…

  • An unusual discharge from the vagina or penis is noted.
  • Urination or penetrative sex is accompanied by pain, bleeding and or burning sensations.
  • Your partner has symptoms of genital warts or has been diagnosed with genital warts.
  • Actual wart like lesion appears around your genital areas or near and inside the mouth.

Bearing in mind that warts appear 6 to 8 months following HPV infection, consulting your doctor when faced with any of the conditions mentioned above, sets you on the path of early HPV treatment. Additionally; various other conditions can be mistaken for genital warts and a doctor is the best person to make a diagnoses and put you on the course for treatment. Additional testing may also be required and your doctor could very well want to know more about your recent and past sexual activity. Be prepared for questions centered on…

  • Your concern for safe sex.
  • Sexual proclivity and the number of sexual partners you have or have had.
  • Your partner’s STI status; has he or she been diagnosed with or tested for any sexually transmitted diseases?

All of these questions will help your doctor determine if you are vulnerable to HPV infection and if your genital rashes and lesions are actually genital warts. Based on this; your doctor might advise a biopsy to determine the presence of HPV and commence treatment if needed.


In conclusion; it is easy to see that even though genital warts that are caused HPV types 6 and 11 are the most recognizable signs of all HPV infections; they can be quite complicated to detect and diagnose. This makes the need for practicing safer sex even more integral. Additionally; any kind of lesions or rashes around the genital area needs to be looked at by a doctor as genital warts are not the only STDs that sexually active individuals with multiple partners are prone to.

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Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:June 3, 2019

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