For Teens: What You Should Know About Genital Warts

Genital warts are also called condyloma. This disease is spread by skin-to-skin contact, mainly during sex. Genital warts are caused by a virus called Human Papilloma Virus or HPV. It is transmitted through contact with genital skin or mucosal areas and secretions, sores, and ulcers of an infected person. The warts can be bumps. Or you may not be able to see them at all. The warts grow in or around the sex organs. Some people notice no symptoms. Other people notice itching, pain, or bleeding.

A health danger

  • Warts you can see can be treated. But the disease never goes away.

  • Home treatments do not cure warts.

  • If you have genital warts, you may have the HPV infection. Over time, this virus can lead to cancer in both men and women.

  • A baby can get genital warts from an infected mother during birth.

Know the risks

  • Having many sex partners puts you at risk for getting genital warts.

  • Having sex without a condom makes it easier to get warts. However, you can still catch HPV even when using a condom.

  • The best way to avoid this disease is to not have sex.

  • If you have sex, be sure you and your partner are tested. Then use latex condoms.

  • If you or your partner has this disease, get treatment for all warts you can see. Don’t have sex during treatment. After warts have been treated, use latex condoms.

Talk to your partner

It may be hard to talk about this with your partner. But it can help keep you and your partner safe. Ask yourself and your partner these questions:

“Have you ever had sex with anyone without using a condom?”

“Have you ever had genital warts?”

"Have you ever had a sexually transmitted disease?"

Did you or your partner answer “yes” to either of these questions? If so, you should both get tested.

Latex condoms may help

Warts can form in places a condom doesn’t cover. This means condoms can’t totally protect you. But they can help.

  • Use latex male condoms or female condoms.

  • Keep latex condoms on hand. Store them in a cool place. Don’t keep them in your wallet or car.

  • If you use a lubricant, make sure it’s water-based. Astroglide and K-Y jelly are water-based. Don’t use petroleum jelly, oils, or hand creams. These can make the condom break.


A vaccine is available that helps protect against HPV, the virus that causes genital warts. It is recommended for both males and females. Your health care provider can tell you more.