I Think I Have Warts...Now What?
If you think that you might have genital warts, it is certainly important to seek attention and to find out if you actually do. Many people will avoid going to the doctor, as they are either embarrassed by their potential warts, or afraid of what the examination process will entail. Learning about the examination process will, hopefully, help to calm the nerves and encourage those with warts to seek the medical attention that they need.
When to Contact a Doctor
There are a few reasons that you would want to get in touch with a doctor about warts. If any present or past sexual partner has let you know that they have genital warts, you need to seek medical attention for yourself. You might say to yourself that you haven't been in sexual contact with that person for years, so therefore you have nothing to worry about. This is not true. It is possible for genital warts to appear months, if not years, after the sexual contact. If you have visible warts on your external genitals, or if you have itching, discharge or abnormal vaginal bleeding, you should also seek attention. Sexual active teens should know that it's very common to contract genital warts. It is a good idea to get screened on a regular basis for this condition.
The Check Up
When you think that you have reason to visit the doctor for genital warts, you'll want to know what to expect. Testing is free in many locations. The doctor will probably conduct an examination of the whole genital area, including the anus. They may use a light solution of weak vinegar over the entire area, because this can help to detect the warts. Women may need to have a pap smear, as it can note changes associated with HPV, and a colposcopy may be used to see lesions that can't be seen with the naked eye. For some types of warts, including cervical warts, there is a new screening test that can diagnose the wart virus. Starting in 2008, young women can now be vaccinated against cervical cancer and the wart virus.
The Follow Up
If the doctor deems that you do have genital warts, you will be put on a treatment plan. The doctor will discuss safe sex with you, and will explain your treatment options. The doctor may use a skin treatment that is applied in the office, or may prescribe medication that you will apply at home several times a week. There are also surgical treatments for more extreme cases that will be explained to you, as necessary. After your initial treatment, you'll be asked to come back for a follow up appointment so that the doctor can see how you are progressing with your treatment.
Genital warts are easily treated and it is very important to seek the medical attention that you need. Try to work through any apprehension or embarrassment that you may have about consulting medical attention - as living with genital warts will be much more uncomfortable and detrimental than will the experience at the doctor's office!