For “Sexual Health Day” – what are genital warts?

For "Sexual Health Day" - what are genital warts?

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For “Sexual Health Day” – what are genital warts?

Sex isn’t just fun – unprotected sex can also transmit diseases such as genital warts.

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Most people don’t like to talk about an STD. Shame and stigma play a role. Genital warts are a common but lesser known sexually transmitted infection. How are they triggered and how to protect against them.

When most people think of an STD, they probably think of gonorrhea or syphilis. Genital warts, on the other hand, are less well known. They are among the most common sexually transmitted diseases in Germany. About 170 out of 100,000 people get them each year. What do genital warts look like and how to protect yourself from infections.

What are genital warts?

Genital warts, also called genital warts, are benign skin growths. At first, only warts form in the lower layer of the skin, which are not yet visible. Warts only become visible as the infection progresses and are reddish, brownish-gray or white nodules of varying sizes. They are mainly found on the external genitalia and the anus. In women, warts mainly appear around the vaginal entrance. They can also appear on the cervix or in the vagina. In men, they occur more frequently between the glans and the shaft of the penis. But you can also train on the scrotum, among other things.

Genital warts infection is triggered by the human papilloma virus (HPV). “There are over 200 different HP viruses known to science. Some of them can also lead to the development of cervical cancer. Genital warts can also become malignant if left untreated. therefore always have to be treated by a doctor,” says Tanja. Fischer, medical director of the Skin and Laser Center Berlin/Potsdam. She specializes in skin and venereal diseases. Genital warts are usually caused by HPV types 6 and 11. But they can also be triggered by types 16 or 18. These two types of HPV are a major risk factor for cervical cancer. In most cases, genital warts are not dangerous. Experts consider it unlikely that genital warts will turn into a malignant tumor.

How are genital warts transmitted?

The infection usually occurs during sexual intercourse. The virus is easily transmitted by intensive physical contact because it is found in the scales of the skin. The human papillomavirus enters the body through the smallest wounds in the skin or mucous membranes. Infection via sex toys to which the virus adheres is also possible. In rare cases, HPV can also be transmitted through a smear infection – for example by sharing towels.

What are the symptoms caused by an infection?

It can take weeks or months for infected cells to form genital warts. Then the warts appear – they have a jagged, cauliflower-like surface. Genital warts usually do not cause pain. In the anal area, however, skin growths can lead to severe itchy eczema. In some cases, the pain can also be triggered by the mechanical friction caused by intercourse.

How to treat genital warts?

“Patients can carry out so-called topical therapies themselves (external or locally applied) after consultation with a doctor. An active ingredient in the form of a solution, cream or ointment is applied to the affected areas of the skin. The principles The active ingredients of choice are podophyllotoxin (solution), imiquimod (cream) and sinecatechins (ointment). When used early and regularly, the active ingredients have a good chance of recovery,” says Tanja Fischer. Warts can can also be removed surgically, by laser or by freezing.

How to protect yourself from genital warts?

Condoms and femidoms offer some protection against HPV infection – but even they don’t guarantee 100% protection. They should be used if genital warts are known to occur during sexual contact. Protection should be used until all genital warts have healed and no new ones have developed for at least six months.

Between the ages of 20 and 34, a Pap test is carried out once a year for women with compulsory health insurance as part of early cancer detection. A swab is taken from the cervix. From the age of 35, a direct HPV screening test associated with a Pap test is covered by compulsory health insurance every three years.

“Since 2006, it has been possible to get vaccinated against certain HP virus types. Vaccination is considered effective protection – depending on the vaccine also against the virus types that cause genital warts in the vast majority of The vaccine is for admitted boys and girls,” explains Tanja Fischer.

Read also :

– Why do many women grow chin hair as they age?

– Why coffee pushes us to the toilet

– What is behind the annoying tic of the eye?

– Why the stomach growls – not only when hungry

Sources: Message on genital warts, German Aidshilfe, Apotheken Umschau


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