Dear Dr Mitchell,
I had my first genital warts outbreak about two years ago. I treated it with Podophyllum resin and it turned to a wound and I used aloe vera to speed up the healing process. It all cleared away and I didn't have another outbreak.
A few days ago I had rough sex which left me sore, and then after two days I felt a single bump very close to my vagina. I don't know if it is the warts returning. I'm scared.
Genital warts are sexually transmitted and caused by the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV). It is important for you to be properly examined to see if you have warts in the vagina and on the cervix in addition to residual warts on the vulva.
Cervical warts may be associated with one of the high risk HPVs that cause cervical cancer. You will need to have a Pap smear done to see if you have any abnormal cervical changes on the cervix caused by the genital warts and if this is the case a colposcopy should be done.
The main HPV types that cause cervical cancer are types 16, 18, 31, 33, 45, 52 and 58. Types 16, 18, 45, and 31 account for over 80 per cent of all cases of cervical cancer. Podophyllum will destroy the wart locally but you have to be sure that there are no more warts on the rest of the genital area. The use of imiquimod (aldara cream) or cauterisation of the warts may be done to locally destroy them.
Cervical warts can also be cauterised or excised especially if they are associated with pre-cancerous changes in the cervix.
Your partner will also need to be examined in detail to determine if he has genital warts to prevent re-infection from him. It is advised that you receive the HPV vaccine to reduce your risk of cervical cancer in the future. Cervarix and Gardasil 9 are both available locally and you should choose one that is affordable and receive all three doses. It is still important to continue your regular screening by doing Pap smears regularly to detect any abnormal changes in the cervix that may result from pre-existing HPV infection until your immune system clears the virus from your body.
You should also get a screening test done for other sexually transmitted infections such as syphilis, human immunodeficiency virus, chlamydia, gonorrhoea and herpes simplex type 2. All these infections are transmitted by sexual contact.
Consult your doctor who will advise you further.
Dr Sharmaine Mitchell is an obstetrician and gynaecologist. Send questions via e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org ; write to All Woman, 40-42 1/2 Beechwood Ave, Kingston 5; or fax to 968-2025. All responses are published. Dr Mitchell cannot provide personal responses.
The contents of this article are for informational purposes only, and must not be relied upon as an alternative to medical advice or treatment from your own doctor.