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Genital Warts affecting Health

From Chlamydia and gonorrhoea to syphilis and herpes, there are a wide variety of sexually transmitted infections that can have a negative effect on the body.

However, while some have been linked to infertility and other health problems, the issues associated with the majority of cases of genital warts are not so serious.

Here we're going to take a look at the condition, why it won't necessarily have a harmful impact on your body and ways you can guard against the infection.

What are genital warts?

The warts themselves are caused by the human papillomavirus (HPV), which is not a single virus in itself but a family of more than 100 different types and strains.

Around 90 per cent of cases of all genital warts are caused by type 6 and type 11 - neither of which has been linked to any other health issues, so the main problem tends to be the unsightly nature of the fleshy lumps that develop on, in or around the genital and anal areas.

What are the problems with the warts?

The main issue with the warts is their unpleasant appearance and the fact that this can lead sufferers to experience psychological distress, although rare strains have been linked to cervical cancer.

These are type 16 and type 18, but fortunately an immunisation programme is currently underway that is designed to protect girls and young women from these strains of HPV, reducing the risk that they'll contract them and so lowering the chances they'll get cancer of the cervix.

How do you get the condition?

Unlike infections such as Chlamydia, you do not need to have sexual intercourse to contact genital warts - skin-to-skin contact is enough, and this also means that sharing sex toys with a carrier can also increase the likelihood that you'll catch the condition.

While this means that condoms will not provide 100 per cent protection against HPV, they are still your best line of defence - and this includes during oral sex. Dental dams can also be purchased to cover the anal and female genital areas.

Another thing to consider is that you need to cover sex toys with a condom, as well as remembering to change the condom and wash the toys thoroughly before passing them on to a partner, and this can also help to reduce your risk of picking up the condition.

How are genital warts treated?

Prevention is better than cure, and as mentioned above, a vaccine is available to girls and young women which prevent them from contracting common strains of HPV.

However, there are treatments available to help those who do become infected with genital warts, and the doctor will decide on the best course of action depending on the nature of your condition.

The options include gential warts topical medications such as creams or lotions that are applied directly to the warts; while there is also the possibility that physical ablation will be used. This process involves employing external forces such as lasers or electricity which serve to destroy the cells of a wart.