Dear Ask The Doctor: Hi, As an uneducated and naive 18 year old I managed to catch genital warts back in 2005. It was just the one wart and I used a herbel remedy to remove it (well, I thought it had removed it). I was unaware of genital warts at the time, how it was caught etc and presumed that once it had gone that was that. About 10 months later I began a relationship and approximately 8 months into that relationship she developed warts to my shock and surprise. She was more informed about what to do and went to the clinic where she had them treated - unfortunately, a few months later I then developed about 4 or 5 more little ones which I semi-treated by using warticon cream - they never fully went, the relationship ended for other reasons and I decided to just leave them be. Is it possible that the virus managed to spread on myself during this relationship? About 3 years had passed and I decided to try and get rid of them once and for all - I have had several cyrotherapy treatments and also I use warticon cream - they both work initially - but then the same warts come back within a week - I must be on my 6th cycle of treatment at least by now and yet they still keep recurring - in one instance a new one has appeared at a completely different location. I went to my GP to request aldara cream as I believe this has a better clearance rate but he refused to prescribe it - just referring me back to the GUM clinic. After having this for 5 years, does this mean I'm doomed to having them recurring persistently for the rest of my life? Will they ever go away for any longer than a week to a month? Could my immune system still defeat the virus or should I give up all hope? I am a very healthy, active person, I dont smoke - although I do drink alcohol most weekends. I am now in a new relationship, who I have informed of my situation - what are the chances of her both contracting the virus, and furthermore actually developing physical symptoms? We have been sexually active (always using a condom) for 3 months now and there appear to be no symptoms. Also, should she contract the virus - is it likely to then make my own symptoms worse? Finally, I have a warm sensation (not quite burning, but just an irritable warming sensation) which feels as if it is all around my penis, anus and possibly scrotum - it almost feels like a burning feeling within my body rather than externally - it also doesnt appear to be where any warts are visibly present - could this have anything to do with HPV? I am clear of all other STIs. Many thanks in advance for your answer - I have searched the internet looking at all sorts of answers but none are ever direct to my own symptoms. I have also spoken to the doctors and nurses at the clinics who have provided me with different answers.
Dear Patient: Genital warts represent the most common sexually-transmitted disease caused by a virus:human papillomavirus (HPV). Infection with genital warts may not be obvious. Genital warts affect both men and women and can occur at any age. Most patients with genital warts are between the ages of 17-33 years. Genital warts are highly contagious. There is a 60% risk of getting the infection from a single sexual contact with someone who has genital warts. Common warts are not the same as genital warts and are caused by different HPV types that infect the skin. Genital warts are indirectly associated with use of birth control pills because of the increased sexual contact without the use of barrier protection, multiple sex partners, and having sex at an early age. No single treatment is effective in eliminating warts and preventing them from coming back. Genital warts may go away on their own in about 10%-20% of people over a period of three to four months. Recurrence rates of genital warts are greater than 50% after one year and have been attributed to the following factors: Recurrent infection from a sexual partner, potentially long incubation time of HPV, Persistence of the virus in the surrounding skin, in the hair follicle, or in sites that are missed by the treatment used, deep lesions or lesions that cannot be detected. Genital warts often appear or increase in number during pregnancy. Dormant infections may also become activated. Because no treatment is 100% effective, it is important to prevent the spread of HPV which causes genital warts and some cancers whenever possible. Transmission of genital warts can be decreased if you use condoms and refrain from sexual activity until therapy is completed. The treatment options are as follows: Cryotherapy this freezes the wart using liquid nitrogen or a "cryoprobe." It is an excellent first-line treatment because response rates are high with few side effects. Laser treatment is used for extensive or recurrent genital warts. It may require local, regional, or general anesthesia. The laser destroys the HPV-induced lesion. It is very costly, increased healing time, scarring, and potentially infectious viral particles in the air caused by the laser plume. Electrodessication uses an electric current to destroy the warts. It can be done in the office with local anesthesia.