Genital warts are caused by an infection of the skin of the genital and anal area with the human papilloma virus (HPV).
There are over 100 different types of HPV which can affect different parts of the body. Approximately 30 types of HPV can live in and around the genital and anal areas but most genital warts are caused by just two types of virus (types 6 and 11).
How are genital warts passed on?
Genital warts are passed on through sexual contact. Anyone who is sexually active can get the virus and pass it on.
You cannot get genital warts from kissing, hugging, sharing baths or towels, from swimming pools, toilet seats or from sharing cups, plates or cutlery
Most people with the HPV infection will not develop any visible warts and the virus will go away on its own. This means that you will not know if they have the virus. If warts appear it can be form three weeks to many months or even years, after coming into contact with the virus.
How will I know if I have the infection?
You can only be certain you have genital warts if a nurse or doctor looks at the wart and confirms you have the infection.
What is the treatment for genital warts?
Is there a vaccine against genital warts?
All girls aged 12-13 are offered Cervarix to protect against HPV 16and 18(the types that can cause cell changes that lead to cancer) as part of a national vaccination programme this does not however currently protect you against genital warts.