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Genital Warts Symptoms & Diagnosis


Genital warts often look like fleshy, raised growths. They have a cauliflower shape. They often appear in clusters.

In women, warts may be found in the following areas:

  • Vulva or vagina
  • Inside or around the vagina or anus
  • Cervix

In men, warts are less common. If present, they are usually found in these areas:

  • Tip or shaft of the penis
  • Scrotum
  • Around the anus

The following symptoms may also occur:

  • Bleeding
  • Itching
  • Irritation
  • Burning
  • Secondary bacterial infection with redness, tenderness, or pus

Complications of HPV


Most strains of HPV that produce genital warts do not cause cancer. But certain strains may cause cervical cancer . Less commonly, cancers of the vulva, anus, or penis occur. It is important for women to have yearly Pap tests . This test can detect any HPV related problems.

Pregnancy and Childbirth Complications

Genital warts may get larger during pregnancy. This may make it hard to urinate. Warts in or near the vaginal opening may also block the birth canal during delivery.


Genital warts may be diagnosed by:

Visual Exam

A doctor can diagnose genital warts by looking at them. If external warts are found on a woman, then the cervix is usually also checked. A doctor may use a special solution to help find lesions that do not have classic features.

Pap Test

If you get abnormal Pap test results, this may indicate HPV. But, your doctor will order more accurate tests, like a colposcopy , to diagnose HPV.

Colposcopy and Biopsy

During a colposcopy, the doctor uses a special device to see if warts are in the cervix and vagina. For a biopsy , the doctor takes a tissue sample and tests it.

HPV Testing

During an HPV test , a swab of cells from the affected area can be checked for certain types of HPV.

Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Copyright © 2022 EBSCO Publishing All rights reserved.

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