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Warts are caused by HPV, a virus with over 100 different strains. About a third of them are sexually transmitted. Some of those cause warts, some cause cancer, others don't have symptoms and you may not even know you have them. So, do you? Do I? Stay curious.

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Did I get genital warts?  Did I?  Do I have a disease? Am I infected with HPV?


Finding out that you or someone you play with has a sexually transmitted infection can be like, whatever, it's part of the deal, psh.  You can't live in a bubble.  We tried.  Cost/benefit analysis.  Benefit, sex, cost, some bumps.  Or it can be like, (sobbing).  Who gave it to whom?  I'm never having sex again.  It's so gross.  I hate my body.  What am I supposed to do now?  And then of course, millions of other experiences that are all valid.  

If you have genital warts or you're worried you're gonna get them from a partner who has them, let's reason some things out.  One, we know genital warts are caused by a virus, HPV, the Human Papillomavirus.  Human, infects humans and is passed human to human.  Papilloma comes from the Greek papilla, meaning nipple-like, and the suffix -oma used to denote a morbid growth.  Lymphoma, carcinoma, glaucoma, melanoma, papilloma, and then virus, a pathogen that needs a host to survive and replicate.  Unlike bacteria that can replicate on their own and be taken down with antibiotics, viruses set up shop in living cells and use them to make copies and spread, so to take down a virus, you have to go after your own body.

Two, we know warts are treatable.  Some warts you may not notice, so they may come and go without ever bothering you.  Others look like round, slightly-raised skin.  There are those that are like cereal flakes, some that are bushy, they can be singular, one wart, or in clusters, a big group of cauliflower down your perineum.  When you seek medical attention to determine what's going on and how to handle it, you may hear an easy home remedy is apple cider vinegar applied with a cotton swab to the infected area.  Don't use off-the-shelf wart remover, it's made for warts on your hands and feet, not the soft mucosal areas of your genitals, mouth and anus.  I can write you a prescription for topical cream that'll boost the immune system to fight off the warts or there's ointments that destroy the wart tissue.  The fastest fix is to freeze them off with liquid nitrogen or burn them off with electricity or cut them off with a laser of scalpel, though they may come back and you'll need to do this more than once.

Three, these remedies get rid of warts but not necessarily the virus that causes them, which means even if the warts are gone, the virus can be passed to others or cause warts to show up again. 

Four, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that almost every sexually active person will have at least one type of HPV at some point in their lives.  It is the most common sexually transmitted infection.  

Five, it's super contagious and easy to transmit.  Skin to skin, skin to sex toy to skin, anal sex, oral sex, anything touching the pubic area.

Six, genital warts have been found on the scrotum, perineum, buttocks, penis, vulva, in the vagina, on the cervix, up the anus, mouth, throat.  Even if no one comes, even if there's no penetration, no fluid.  Warts like to party!

Seven, we know condoms, gloves, and dams can reduce your risk but they don't protect all areas of the body that HPV likes.  

Eight, so given all of this, unless you have symptoms, warts, or cancers, most medical providers don't test for HPV on an exam or an STI screening because they know most people already have it.

And nine, most cases of HPV, including those that lead to genital warts, clear on their own in 2-3 years.  

Do I have warts?  Not that I know of.  I can't see any externally or internally.  There's no unexplained bleeding during penetration and no itching or discomfort anywhere in my groin.  Those are the symptoms.  I have been tested for 11 different STIs, HPV testing was not offered.  You know why.  Do I have HPV?  Maybe.  Definitely at some point in my life, I have.  I've been sexually active for more than two decades.  Could I get warts?  Yes.  Warts can show up years after transmission, but in most cases, if they're going to appear, it's within the first six months.  Is it important for me to check out my genitals regularly to track changes and bring up suspicions with a medical provider?  You betcha. 

One thing I highly recommend discussing with your provider is the vaccine Gardasil.  The newest version addresses nine different types of HPV: 6, 11, 16, 18, 31, 33, 45, 52, and 58, and it's now recommended by the FDA for ages 9-45.  If you get the HPV vaccine, can you still get warts?  Yes.  The nine strains that the vaccine covers reduces your probability, but it's not a comprehensive  vaccine.  There are other strains that cause warts and cancer.   Try though.

More questions!  Does it hurt to have sex when you have warts?  Not usually.  Do they all show up at once?  No.  They can, or warts may accumulate over time.  Can you get hand warts on your genitals?  As of now, no.  From what I've studied, you can't get warts on your groin from masturbating with a wart-covered palm.  They're different strains.  You can transmit genital warts from one person to another person by way of your hands though.  Since everyone who's had sex has had HPV or has it, do I have to disclose having HPV to my partners?  Share this video.  I've made open communication easier for you and I want you and your partners to have informed consent.  I want you to stay curious.  

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