Genital Warts

What are genital warts?

Genital warts are small lumps in or around the vagina, on the cervix, on the penis or scrotum, or around the anus. Warts on other parts of the body are caused by different types of HPV and are not sexually transmitted.

How do you get genital warts?

You can get genital warts through close skin to skin contact, usually during sex. Genital warts might take weeks or months to appear after having sex, or they might never appear.

What are the symptoms?

Genital warts look like small skin-coloured lumps on your vulva, vagina, cervix, penis, scrotum or anus. They might be itchy. They may also be very small and hard to see. A nurse or doctor will be able to check more closely for you.

To find some images of genital warts click here 

How do you treat them?

Genital warts will usually clear up with time, but treatment will lower the risk of passing warts on to anyone you have sex with. Some common treatments are:

  • a cream which helps the immune system fight the virus, or
  • a liquid painted on the warts which kills the infected cells, or
  • freezing with liquid nitrogen, or
  • diathermy (heat).

It might take a few visits or different treatments for it to work.

Can I pass them on to my parter(s)?

If you have genital warts, you should get them treated as they are easily spread during sex. You should use condoms or oral dams to help reduce the spread of infection.

Can I prevent getting genital warts?

  1. Get the HPV vaccine. The vaccine is free for New Zealand residents aged between 9 and 26 and will help protect you from HPV and genital warts.
  2. Use condoms each time you have sex, especially if you are having sex with someone new or with different partners.
  3. Cervical screening every three years from age 20 to 70 will pick up any changes in the cells in your cervix, so you can get treatment if you need it.