Genital warts may be new, recurrent or have been present for many years.
Treatment for genital warts is optional. Even though there are many good treatments for genital warts, most genital wart infections will clear up spontaneously sooner or later. However, many people want to have them treated as the warts can be unsightly and/or uncomfortable.
The goal of treatment should be to remove visible genital warts and relieve annoying symptoms.
There are several available treatments, and no one treatment is ideal for all people or all warts.
Factors that might influence the choice of treatment include size, location and number of warts, changes in the warts, patient preference, the cost of treatment, convenience, possible adverse effects and the health care provider's expertise.
All treatment options involve some drawbacks, such as pain, possible scarring, and expense. Additionally, some of the warts which were cleared initially may, in some people, have recurrences which means going back for further treatment.
If there is no significant response to the HPV treatment within 4–6 weeks, an alternative diagnosis, change of treatment modality, or onward referral should be considered.
Remember that not all of these treatment options may be available, and a treatment plan needs to be discussed with the doctor or health care specialist.
Whatever the choice, remember that weekly treatments are usually needed, and it may be some time before the warts clear. No treatment at present can guarantee that warts are gone forever. Also keep in mind that warts would usually go away over time without treatment.
After visible genital warts have cleared, a follow-up evaluation is not necessary.
Recurrences (a return of the warts) occur most frequently during the first 3 months. A follow-up evaluation 3 months after treatment may be useful for reassurance that there are no persistent or new warts. Regular cervical screening is recommended for everyone with a cervix, regardless of whether they have genital warts or not.
Anyone with genital warts should discuss with their doctor the possibility of other sexually transmitted infections being present, and take the opportunity to have a full sexual health check.
Some Questions and Answers about HPV and Genital Warts