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Tackle Genital Warts

While they do not pose a serious threat to a person's health, genital warts can be unsightly and have a negative impact on someone's self-esteem and cause them significant psychological distress.

When this issue is combined with the fact that two strains of the human papillomavirus (HPV) - the infection which causes the warts - have been linked to cervical cancer, it's plain to see why it's a good idea to take steps to prevent from contracting the affliction.

But this is easier said than done, as unlike conditions such as Chlamydia and genital warts can be passed from one person to another via skin-to-skin contact; sexual intercourse does not have to take place for the warts to spread.

As such, it's important to ensure that you seek treatment for the infection as soon as possible in order to prevent yourself from passing HPV onto your partner.

Yet given that prevention is better than cure, there are ways you can minimise your chances of picking up genital warts and avoiding the distress that the small fleshy lumps can cause.

Here we'll take a quick look at the two main ways to restrict the spread of the HPV infection and safeguard your sexual health.

Condoms:

While condoms will not provide 100 per cent protection - as mentioned above, skin-to-skin contact is enough for the condition to spread - they can still reduce the likelihood that you'll contract genital warts during a sexual encounter. This also applies if you're having oral sex, while dental dams can be used to cover the female genitals or anal areas.

It's also important that you apply this principle to sex toys - if you're going to share them, make sure they're covered with a new condom before anyone else uses them. If you haven't got a condom to hand, be sure to wash them thoroughly before letting a partner pick them up.

Taking such measures will help you guard against contracting other sexually transmitted infections too, including the likes of Chlamydia, gonorrhoea and HIV.

The Gardasil vaccine:

This treatment guards against four strains of HPV - two of which are responsible for around 90 per cent of all cases of genital warts, and another two that have been known to cause 70 per cent of cervical cancers in the UK.

Girls and young women up to the age of 18 are eligible for the vaccine, and it is currently given to those who are in year eight at schools across the country.

The vaccine is relatively new, and was only introduced to schoolgirls in September 2012 - despite it having been first licensed in 2006. It has been distributed internationally with around 80 million doses having been administered worldwide.

While the vaccine is not available to everyone, it is hoped that the current immunisation programme will eventually lead men and women throughout the UK to develop something known as herd immunity - this means a person is immune to the warts because they've developed a resistance through sexual contact with someone who has had the vaccine.