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Genital wart removal Q&As
Published by Bupa's health information team, May 2009.
Answers to questions about genital wart removal
This section contains answers to common questions about this topic. Questions have been suggested by health professionals, website feedback and requests via email.
Is it safe to remove genital warts during pregnancy?
Genital warts can be safely removed during pregnancy, but it's important to tell your doctor if you are, or could be, pregnant as this will affect the treatment you're offered. Many medicines used to treat genital warts aren't suitable for pregnant women.
Existing genital warts can grow in size or number during pregnancy. You may develop genital warts for the first time during pregnancy or notice that they have reappeared after years without any symptoms.
If your genital warts grow very big, they may need to be removed or treated so they don't cause problems when you are giving birth. Large warts can block your cervix and vagina - this is very rare but you will need to have a caesarean delivery. There is also a risk that the virus will be passed onto your baby during a vaginal delivery. If your baby is infected with HPV at birth, it can cause serious problems.
If you have been diagnosed with genital warts, tell your doctor or nurse that you're pregnant as this may affect the treatment you're offered. Certain medicines used to treat genital warts can affect your baby's development.
It's safe to have cryotherapy to treat genital warts if you're pregnant. This involves putting very cold liquid nitrogen directly onto the warts using a spray or cotton bud to freeze and destroy them. You may also be able to have surgery to cut away small warts that are easy to reach.
- Genital warts. Family Planning Association Leaflet. www.fpa.org.uk, accessed 22 October 2008
- United Kingdom National Guideline on the Management of Ano-genital Warts, 2007. British Association for Sexual Health and HIV (BASHH). www.bashh.org, accessed 22 October 2008
- Genital warts. BMJ Clinical Evidence. www.clinicalevidence.com, accessed 22 October 2008
What happens if genital warts come back after treatment?
The genital warts can come back after treatment. If they come back the treatment can be repeated. If the first treatment doesn't work, another treatment or a combination of treatments can be tried.
Genital warts are transmitted by skin-to-skin contact during unprotected vaginal, oral or anal sex and by sharing sex toys. If you have genital contact with an infected partner and don't have sex you can still get the HPV. The virus can be passed even if the infected person has no symptoms. Removing the warts doesn't mean you're free from HPV. The virus can live in normal tissue for up to six months.
Genital warts can come back after treatment. The new warts may be due to the original infection or a new infection from a partner. The treatment can be repeated. If the first treatment doesn't work, another treatment or a combination of treatments can be tried.
What happens if I don't have the genital warts treated?
If left untreated genital warts may disappear, stay the same, or grow larger in size or number.
You're free to choose not to have the recommended treatment, have a different treatment or not to have any treatment at all. You don't have to give any reasons for your decision, but it can help your doctor if he or she know your concerns so that he or she can give you the best advice.
If you have any questions, don't be afraid to ask your doctor. It often helps to make a list of the questions you want to ask to remind you of the things you want to know, but can easily forget.
You can always ask for more time to decide about the treatment if you feel that you can't make a decision when it's first explained to you.
If left untreated genital warts may disappear, stay the same, or grow larger in size or number. Genital warts can cause problems if you have an illness that affects your immune system or if you become pregnant. Treating the warts can help reduce the risk of you passing them on to your partner (or your baby during delivery). So it's worth considering all your options before making your final decision.
If you have genital warts, it's important to use a condom during sex. This will prevent you from passing them on to your partner, as long as it covers the affected area.
This information was published by Bupa's health information team and is based on reputable sources of medical evidence. It has been peer reviewed by Bupa doctors. The content is intended for general information only and does not replace the need for personal advice from a qualified health professional.
Publication date: May 2009