Female genital warts are caused by a virus known as the human papillornavirus, or HPV, a highly contagious sexually transmitted disease. These warts are typically gray or flesh colored and may occur alone or in clusters. Female genital warts often cause no symptoms and may go undiagnosed for years unless a routine pap smear comes back with abnormal results. Among the patients who do experience symptoms from female genital warts, itching is the most common complaint. Some cases of cervical cancer are caused by this virus as well.
Most female genital warts are relatively small, although some do grow large enough to require surgery to remove them. Female genital warts are most commonly found around the vaginal opening, although they may be found anywhere in the vaginal or anal areas. When these warts are near the urethral opening, where urine leaves the body, a urinary blockage may occur, or there may be blood in the urine. An inability to urinate is considered a medical emergency and should be reported to a doctor right away.
Female genital warts may cause bleeding after sexual intercourse in some women. Other women report an unusual vaginal discharge. If bleeding is present and does not stop after applying direct pressure to the area, a doctor should be consulted immediately. Any unusual vaginal discharge should also be reported to a physician.
It is important to note that female genital warts are extremely contagious, making safe sex very important. Any potential sexual partners should be notified of this condition, and a condom should be used, even if there is no active flare-up. The patient should never attempt to pop or otherwise remove genital warts, as this will only spread the infection.
Many cases of cervical cancer are the result of female genital warts. Regular pap smears can help to detect any changes to the cervix, making it important to have this test performed as directed by a physician. Many times, cervical changes can be detected before cancer develops or in the earliest stages, greatly decreasing the chances for severe medical complications. A complete hysterectomy, a surgery performed to remove all of the female reproductive organs, is frequently the best method of treating cervical cancer.
There is no cure for female genital warts, so treatment is aimed at managing symptoms. Prescription medications are available that may help to reduce the size of genital warts, or in some cases, cause them to disappear. In some cases, surgery may be needed to remove the warts. It should be noted that the warts could return at some point, so there is no guaranteed permanent treatment method available.