Genital Warts (HPV): Symptoms, Diagnosis, Treatment & Complications

What are Genital Warts?

There are certain HPV strains that develop warts around or in the anus, on the vulva, on the vagina, on the penis, scrotum, groin or on the thigh. Those that have warts, they can appear from weeks to months after being exposed. They can even become exposed after years.

How are Genital Warts (HPV) diagnosed?

  • Vinegar solution poured on the skin to find flat warts. This test can often show normal skin as being a wart. Just by looking at them. Some healthcare providers will just look at them and tell you.
  • Biopsy. These are often done if the wart removed and then put under a microscope for examination.


Genital warts are most commonly transmitted through sex:

  • Anal Sex
  • Oral Sex
  • Vaginal Sex

There is also the possibility of transmission through close skin on skin contact (usually also related to sex).

Worried you might have an STD?

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Mark Riegel, MD
Mark Riegel, MD

Quick Snapshot

Can it be cured?

No. Viruses don't have cures, but symptoms can be controlled with proper treatment.

Type of Infection

Viral. Genital warts are caused by certain strains of HPV, the human papillomavirus.

How is it treated?

Medicine or Surgery. There are a variety of treatment options including medications and surgery (freezing, burning, laser and physical removal).

Recovery Time

1 to 4 weeks. Recovery varies by type of treatment as well as size and location of the outbreak. Anywhere from 1-4 weeks should be expected.

Can I have sex?

No. Until the warts are gone, sexual activity should be avoided.

Can I get re-infected?

Yes. As the base cause of genital warts is an incurable virus, you can have recurrence of genital warts without a new infection.

Do I Have Genital Warts?

Find out whether or not you have Genital Warts and what STD test is recommended using our symptom checker. Get your personalized results and recommendations!

Genital Warts (HPV) Symptom Checker