Biddeford, Kittery, Westbrook
Genital Warts: are caused by the human papillomavirus (HPV) and can spread through casual sexual contact and poor hygiene. They may appear as little bumps on the skin at its earliest stage, to raised cauliflower-mat like lesions on the skin of the anal-genitals areas. See the pictures below.
Office Treatment with laser light ablation, sometimes in combination with interferon therapy, gets rid of most all cases of genital warts. We also recommend some topical treatments that you can apply at home. ● There are no products available without a doctor’s prescription for the treatment of genital warts – so please come see us to help you find the absolute best treatment for your condition. See a video on Combination Therapy [5:09] for the treatment of anal and genital warts.
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Symptoms: Many people with genital warts complain of itching, irritation, bleeding, discharge and pain. An early infection might not be obvious, so you could have genital warts and not know it. Bleeding is always a cause for concern and you should see your doctor. People with warts in their urethra, the tube and opening that carries urine out of their body, should see a doctor that specializes in urology to get a cystoscopy exam. Women with warts on their genitalia should get a Pap smear, a test to look for cancers and precancers in the cervix.
HPV Statistics:According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, it is estimated that 100% of sexually active men and women acquire genital HPV infection at some point in their lives. Nearly half of Americans between the ages of 18 and 59 are infected with genital human papillomavirus — some strains of which can cause deadly cancer. HPV is the most common sexually transmitted infection in the United States. Some high-risk strains infect 25 percent of men and 20 percent of women, and cause about 31,000 cases of cancer each year.
Are Genital Warts Contagious? About 40 strains of HPV are transmitted through direct contact with infected skin or mucous membranes during vaginal, anal and oral sex. HPV can also be transmitted without sex. It may be a finger that spreads the disease from one infected area of the body to an uninfected area, or simply by a shared towel. Some experts say that you should consider yourself contagious for 4-6 months following the removal or treatment of the last lesion.
Can Anogenital Warts Resolve on Their Own? Initial infection is often believed to be transient in nature, and it is thought that within the first 4 months of infection approximately 30% of all warts regress spontaneously. An additional 20% are estimated to resolve within the next 2 years. Long-term remission rates remain largely unknown, and they can reoccur spontaneously at any time. Remember, that as long as warty lesions are visible, and for at least 3 to 4 months afterwards, this person is still considered contagious.
Telling a Partner: It’s important to tell a partner if you have genital warts, because genital warts are extremely contagious. Having HPV doesn’t mean that you or your partner has been unfaithful, it just means that you have been exposed to a very common virus. The virus can lay dormant for weeks, months and even years. Consistent and correct use of latex condoms may reduce the risk for genital HPV infection and associated diseases (e.g., genital warts and cervical cancer). Either abstain from sex or use a condom while you are being treated.
HPV and Cancer: Most HPV infections are destroyed by the immune system and cleared from the body within two years, but some strains can persist, including the HPV strains 16 & 18, which cause most anal, cervical, penile, and oropharyngeal (throat, soft palate, the base of the tongue, and the tonsils) cancers. There are times when the body can’t fight off the HPV infection, which is when genital warts appear or abnormal cells develop that can cause cancer. It is important for a woman exposed to HPV, to have her doctor perform a pap smear, to make sure that abnormal cells do not turn into cervical cancer. See this video [4:52] to learn how HPV causes Genital warts and cancer.
Anal Pap Test: Anal cancer is linked to the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV), which causes anal warts. An anal Pap smear is the anal counterpart to the cervical Pap smear used for early detection of cancer. The anal pap smear along with tissue assessment can also detect High Risk HPV viral types and Probable High Risk HPV viral types which are "considered High Risk HPV infections for the development of dysplasia or neoplasia of the anogenital tract that have implications for the development of organ specific cancers such as cervical, anal, or oral carcinoma", according to West Coast Pathology Laboratories 2017.
Individuals with an abnormal anal pap test, or men who have sex with men (MSM), are at a High Risk of getting anal and penile cancer. If you are a patient with particular risk factors, or abnormal cells are found on the Anal Pap Test, an examination with a High Resolution Anoscopy (HRA) is often performed.
HPV Vaccine for Adults: The leading HPV vaccine, GARDASIL®9, has been very effective in protecting boys and girls between the ages of 9 and 26, from high risk HPV types 16, 18, 31, 33, 45, 52, and 58, that cause certain cancers with or without the presence of warts, and low risk HPV types 6 and 11 which cause 90% of all genital warts. At any age and even in the presence of genital warts, unless you have been exposed to all 9 viral types, the HPV vaccine can still be effective. The HPV Vaccine is offered at large retail pharmacy chains, and at most county health departments.
Studies show that the rates of HPV infection in women vaccinated at age 25, did not decrease after vaccination. Additionally, the vaccine's safety and effectiveness has not been studied in adults 26 and older. Therefore, the HPV vaccine is not recommended for adults older than age 26.
HPV Vaccine for Children: The vaccine which is given for the explicit purpose of “cancer prevention,” is currently the most underutilized immunization available for children in the USA. Recent efforts have focused on recommending the vaccine for children ages 11 and 12, when most states require two other vaccines. Australia, where the vaccine is offered free to schoolgirls, accomplished a 92 percent reduction in genital warts in women under 21.
In the United States, the vaccine is largely optional. “As with other government-recommended vaccines, it is covered by insurance with no co-pay, and the federal Vaccines for Children program provides free vaccination for children who are uninsured or underinsured,” according to the American Cancer Society.