Thursday, October 29, 2009

Q & A: "I noticed some small bumps on my penis. Could these be genital warts?"

I noticed some small bumps on my penis. Could these be
genital warts? If so do I need to do anything about them?

Genital warts are also known as venereal warts, or
condyloma acuminatum. They are a type of wart that look
like those found anywhere else on the body, but that only occur
in the genital area. They are caused by a virus, and transmitted
by direct "skin-to-skin" sexual contact. Once acquired, the virus
cannot be cured, but the warts themselves come and go. They
typically affect the areas of the vulva, vagina, rectum, and
cervix in women, and the penis, scrotum, and rectum in men. You
should see a health professional to determine whether your bumps
are warts, or something else.

By and large, genital warts are considered more of a nuisance
than a major health problem. Nonetheless, there is evidence that
the virus increases a woman's risk for cervical cancer. Women
should take extra care to obtain annual pap smears for cervical
cancer screening.

There are a variety of local treatments that will remove the
warts, but as with any other wart, the virus remains in your
body. These treatments are available from gynecologists,
dermatologists, and some primary care practitioners. Do not use
over-the-counter remedies for these types of warts.

Removal of the warts, and the use of condoms, will reduce your
chances of giving genital warts to an uninfected person, but are
not fool-proof as small, barely perceptible warts on genital
areas not shielded by the condom, could potentially transmit the
virus.

-- R. Jandl

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