WARNING: The Embarrassing Bodies website contains images of an explicit medical nature and nudity in a medical context.

NHS Choices Condition

Content supplied by NHS Choices

Genital warts are an infection of the skin of the genital and anal area, and the mucous membranes (lining) of the vagina, cervix and rectum. They are caused by the human papilloma virus (HPV).

There are more than 100 different types of HPV, They can affect different parts of the body, including the hands and feet (warts on the feet are called verruca). Approximately 30 types of HPV can live in and around the genital and anal area but most genital warts are caused by just two types of virus (types 6 and 11).

Genital warts can be spread during vaginal or anal sex, and by sharing sex toys. However, you don’t need to have penetrative sex to pass it on. The virus is spread by skin-to-skin contact. Condoms do not completely protect you as it is possible to infect the genital skin not covered by the condom.

The virus is most likely to be passed on when warts are present but it is still possible to pass the virus on after warts have disappeared. It is possible, but rare, to develop warts in the mouth or on the lips from oral sex. However, it is not thought that warts on the hand can be passed to the genitals.

A pregnant woman who has genital warts at the time of birth can pass the virus to her baby, but this is rare. You can't get genital warts from kissing, hugging, sharing baths or towels, using swimming pools, toilet seats or from sharing cups, plates or cutlery.

Most people will not develop visible warts and the virus will go away on its own, so you may not even know that you have them. If warts do appear, it’s normally between two weeks and several months or longer after coming into contact with the virus. You might have small, fleshy growths, bumps or skin changes which may appear anywhere in or on the genital or anal area.

view information about Genital Warts on www.nhs.co.uk »

Important Notice

The information provided on this website (including any NHS Choices medical information) is for use as information or for educational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical care by a qualified doctor or other qualified healthcare professional. We do not warrant that any information included within this site will meet your health or medical requirements. This Embarrassing Bodies site does not provide any medical or diagnostic services so you should always check with a health professional if you have any concerns about your health.

If you want to embed our videos in your site, read our embedding T&Cs here