Genital Warts Diagnosis

Many genital warts never get diagnosed simply because they don't normally cause pain, they tend to appear in hard to see places (for example on the cervix), and they can be small and hard to distinguish from a normal genital bump. On the other hand, some vaginal and other genital warts appear on the external genital areas and grow to be the larger variety, making them easy to diagnose by their appearance.

If you think you may have genital warts, it's best to go to your doctor for a diagnosis. For external genital warts, your doctor will be able to tell if you have genital warts by looking at the suspected area. She may swab acetic acid (vinegar) over the area to turn any non-visible warts white, enabling a diagnosis. Your doctor may need to examine your suspected warts using a coloscope to magnify the area.

For internal warts in women, a tissue sample (biopsy) can be taken to determine the cause of abnormal cell changes. Borderline results of a Pap smear can be examined using the HPV test, which determines the presence of HPV genetic material inside the cells taken from a biopsy. The presence of some strains of HPV (6, 11, 30, 42, 43, 44, 45, 51, 52, 54) indicates genital warts. Ninety percent of warts are caused by HPV strains 6 and 11. The presence of other strains of HPV is linked to cervical cancer, and if your doctor finds these strains he will want to perform further tests.

The test for HPV cannot be done in men because it's hard to get an adequate number of cells for testing from the penis.

If your doctor diagnoses you with genital warts, this is a good time to ask about various medical treatment options available.

If you are diagnosed with genital warts or HPV, it is important to tell your sexual partner. Unfortunately condoms are not as effective in preventing HPV as they are for preventing other STDs because they don't prevent all skin-to-skin contact. Female condoms however do cover a greater surface area than male condoms.