Genital warts are caused by the human papillomavirus (HPV virus) that results in cauliflower-like lesions on the genital organs. These are from two to ten millimetres wide. Genital warts on men are on the head of the penis (glans), on the foreskin and around the anus. Women can have genital warts on the labia, at the vaginal opening, inside the vagina, at the urethral opening and around the anus. Genital warts can also spread to the pharynx (part of the throat) and vocal cords by oral sex.
The virus transmits easily and there is no treatment to stop it. A year can pass from time of infection till the warts are visible, and often people can be infected without ever having visible warts. Genital warts can be treated with ointments, or be cut, painted, frozen or burnt away by a doctor.
The virus giving genital warts can also result in cervical cancer later in life. Long-term HPV infection can result in both men and women having cancer of the mouth, the pharynx and the anus. Men can also get cancer of the penis.