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What are Genital Warts?

Genital warts are common and are caused by certain types of HPV. Genital warts can be annoying, but they’re treatable and aren’t dangerous.

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Genital warts are caused by HPV

Genital warts show up on the skin around your genitals and anus. They’re caused by certain types of human papillomavirus (HPV). You might’ve heard that some types of HPV can cause cancer, but they’re NOT the same kinds that give you genital warts.

HPV can be a tricky STD to understand. It’s the most common STD, but most of the time it goes away on its own. Sometimes certain types of “high-risk” HPV can develop into cancer if left untreated. Other “low-risk” types of HPV can cause warts on your vulva, vagina, cervix, rectum, anus, penis or scrotum. Genital warts are common — about 360,000 people get them each year.

How do you get genital warts?

You get genital warts from having skin-to-skin contact with someone who’s infected, often during vaginal, anal, and oral sex. Genital warts can be spread even if no one cums, and a penis doesn’t have to go inside a vagina or anus to get them. You can spread them even when you don’t have any visible warts or other symptoms, though that’s less common. You can also pass genital warts to a baby during vaginal childbirth, but that’s pretty rare.

Genital warts are different from warts you might get elsewhere on your body. So you can’t get genital warts by touching yourself (or a partner) with a wart that’s on your hand or foot.

You’re more likely to pass genital warts when you’re having symptoms. So if you notice a wart, it’s best to get tested and treated to help lower the risk of passing genital warts on to a partner.

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