Condyloma is one of the most common STDs and is more common among young people. You can get warts in the genital area or around the rectum if you have a condyloma. Most people do not get any physical problems from warts that usually disappear by themselves. The warts are caused by a virus called HPV, human papillomavirus.

Sometimes one can hear about so-called flat condyloma. By this is meant a virus-altered mucosa without visible or noticeable warts. This text is not about flat condyloma, but about typical condyloma, so-called genital warts.

Symptoms of condyloma

Not everyone gets symptoms. The most common symptom is warts. Warts can sit in different places in the genital area. Most people who get condyloma have no physical problems, but many experience warts as distorting and mentally disturbed.

You can often see or feel warts. Warts can look different. The most common are tabbed or rounded and slightly raised. They are often skin-colored or pink to purple, but may also be whitish, red or pigmented. Warts can sit one by one, but usually, you have several at the same time. In some cases, warts may sit very tightly so that they look like occasional large growths.

You may also have one or more of the following symptoms of condyloma:

  • itching or burning
  • small bleeding from the warts
  • trouble with intercourse

When and where should I seek care?

Contact a  health care provider if you think you have a condyloma and are bothered by it. You can also contact a skin and gender clinic, a so-called venereology clinic. They have different names in different places in the country, such as the sex clinic, Sesame, the reception for sex and cohabitation, STD or STI.

You who are under 25 can usually contact a youth reception. Depending on where in the country you live, it may vary.

Do I need to seek care if my partner has a condyloma?

You do not need to seek care if you are in a relationship where your partner has had a condyloma and you have not had any symptoms yourself. 

How does the condyloma get infected?

Condyloma infects through intimate contact and can be transmitted even if there are no visible symptoms. It appears that the condyloma is transferred to the baby at birth.

Condyloma infects fairly easily and most people who have had a sexual partner with condyloma become infected with viruses.

It may take a long time before you get symptoms. The time from being infected to seeing warts varies greatly, it can sometimes take several years.

Your own immune system affects

It depends on what your own immune system is if you get infected and if you get warts.

The immune system is impaired when you are pregnant, sick or taking certain medicines. A viral infection can then cause more and larger warts to form. But these disappear when your immune system is as it usually is again after birth.

How do I avoid getting condyloma?

A condom provides condyloma protection, but it is not 100 percent safe because the condom does not cover all surfaces that may be infected by viruses.

The vaccine included in the child vaccination program protects against the two types of HPV that are most common in the condyloma and two types that cause cell changes and can lead to cervical cancer. The vaccine will be more effective if you get it before you come into contact with these viruses. Then the likelihood of getting condyloma is reduced by 80 percent. Therefore, you should vaccinate before having sex with another person for the first time. 

How much does it cost to vaccinate against HPV?

For girls, vaccination is included in the general vaccination program. This means that girls are offered to vaccinate at school free of charge when they are in fifth or sixth grade.  

The HPV vaccine is included in the high-cost protection for women up to the age of 26. Older women, boys and men have to pay for the vaccination themselves. The cost of the vaccination may vary depending on which county you live in and which reception you visit. Contact your reception to see what it costs there.

Investigation

At a doctor’s examination, you can only get help finding any condyloma. It is usually possible to see immediately whether it is condyloma or not. It is not possible to take a blood test or other test to show if there is a virus or not.

Sometimes the doctor may need to take a tissue sample to find or rule out signs of a viral infection. They then remove a small portion of the wart that is examined in a laboratory with a microscope. You will receive local anesthesia if you need to submit tissue samples.

You may leave more samples to see if you have other STDs, such as chlamydia.

You should understand the information

In order for you to be involved in your care and treatment, it is important that you understand the information you receive from the healthcare personnel. Ask questions if you don’t understand. For example, you should receive information about treatment options and how long you may have to wait for care and treatment.

Treatment of condyloma

Most people with condyloma get rid of warts without any special treatment. It varies how long it takes.

Warts can be treated if they cause problems such as itching, burning, scabies, bleeding, and problems with peeing. The psychological problems many experiences, when they have warts, are also a reason to get treatment.

Most become completely or substantially better within a month of treatment.

The treatment removes warts – not the infection

Common to all treatments is that they are focused on removing warts. They do not really treat the viral infection that causes warts, although the amount of virus particles usually diminishes after treatment. Therefore, it is common to get new warts.

You are also at risk of passing the infection on, despite the treatment.

Eventually, the body’s own immune system usually takes care of the viral infection, but it may not be faster because you have been treated.

Different types of treatment of condyloma

Warts can be treated with drugs or removed in different ways.

Treatment with drugs

The most common treatment is with medicines containing podophyllotoxin. They consist of a solution or cream that you iron on warts with the help of a small spatula.

The treatment lasts for three days. Then you take a break for about four days. Thereafter, the treatment is repeated one or more times. It is common for you to get red and get sweaty. You should stop treatment if the reactions become severe.

You should not use medicines containing podophyllotoxin if you are pregnant or planning to become pregnant.

The drugs are prescription and prescribed by doctors.

Treatment with solutions and creams can cause problems with itching, burning, redness and small ulcers. The trouble goes away by itself when the treatment is over.

Different ways to remove condyle wounds

Which method should be used in consultation with a doctor. It can also differ depending on where in the country you live which method is used.

 The various treatments are:

  • freezing, so-called cryo-treatment
  • diathermy, that is, strong heating with electricity
  • laser removal
  • removal with scissors or a knife.

Can I have sex if I have a condyloma?

You should not have intercourse when you are being treated with medicines or while you are healing after surgical treatment.

Use a condom if you have sex with a new partner when you are finished. A condom is the best protection for both parties, although it does not completely protect against the risk of transmitting the virus.

The virus can infect even when you have no symptoms suggestive of condyloma. The longer you go without a relapse, the less likely you are to become infected.

What happens in the body?

Condyloma is caused by viruses belonging to the human papillomavirus group, HPV. There are several different types of viruses. The viruses that cause condyloma are similar to the types that cause warts on feet, hands and other places on the body.

HPV infections are very common in the genital area. Most, on the other hand, receive no warts. In most people, the infection heals by itself and everything indicates that the virus has then completely disappeared from the body.

People who are otherwise healthy rarely get long-term complications. Those who have severely impaired immune systems can get difficult-to-treat condyle wounds in large areas. The immune system is severely impaired if, for example, you have an  HIV infection or need to use drugs that weaken the immune system.

Condyloma and cell sample

The virus types that cause condyloma are not the same as the virus types that cause cervical cancer.

You do not need to do any extra cell tests if you have had condyloma. It is enough to take cell samples when you are called. It is important that you be examined by a gynecologist if a cell test check reveals that there are condyloma-like changes in the uterus. It can be difficult to distinguish condyloma from severe changes in the uterine spine.

Pregnancy and condyloma

The condyloma virus can be transmitted to the child during childbirth. But it is very uncommon for the child to have any problems.

The virus can remain dormant for several years, and later give rise to warts in the child, although it is unusual. Therefore, it does not have to be that children who get condyle wounds have been subjected to sexual abuse, even though the doctor is still obliged to investigate how the infection may have gone.

Ehtisham Nadeem

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