Causes of Genital Warts

Causes of Genital Warts
Genital Warts

There are the number of different ways and means by which you can get HPV. These are the most common and the most known about ways of contracting HPV.

HPV is known to be a sexually transmitted disease, so if you do develop genital warts you and your partner should both get a thorough checkup before proceeding any further.

There is no hard and fast method to curing genital warts. The one thing that you should avoid though, is the use of any of the over-the-counter medications which are used for other strains of HPV elsewhere on the body.

There can be, and are, other methods by which you can get genital HPV warts, but these are the most common causes.

  • Having oral, vaginal or anal sex with an HPV affected partner
  • Having unprotected sexual intercourse
  • Having sexual intercourse with more than one partner
  • Having sexual intercourse with a partner who has, or has had, more than one sexual partner
  • Starting sexual relations at an early age
  • If you have a history of HPV infections
  • If you have had genital warts once before
  • If a pregnant woman has HPV, during childbirth in some rare cases, she may pass it on to the baby
  • If you have, or have had, Herpes you are also a candidate for HPV
  • Cigarette smoking and alcohol usage have also been linked to contracting HPV
  • Use of steroids, or other drugs
  • Oral Contraceptives
  • In some rare cases HPV can be passed on by using the towel of an infected person
  • Tanning beds, and other such items which aren’t cleaned properly can also in some cases pass on the infection
  • Stress, coupled with another viral infection can also bring on genital warts
  • Poor nutrition and hygiene

Sexual Intercourse

Unprotected Sexual Intercourse

This is the number one method through which HPV strains which cause genital warts are passed on.

Having sexual intercourse with a partner who is already infected with the HPV genital wart strain will give you a 66% chance, or two-thirds of a chance, of getting genital warts yourself.

As you will read in the “Prevention” section there are ways by which you can prevent or avoid getting genital warts, but if your sexual partner has it, then there’s a likelihood that you will also get it.

And since it might take a few months even a few years for genital warts to manifest itself in a person who has been infected, even a person who is reasonably certain that they don’t have genital warts might indeed have the HPV infection present within them.

Sexual intercourse in this case implies not only vaginal sex, but also oral sex, and anal sex.

There’s also the chance that if you indulge in oral sex with an infected partner, that you can get genital warts HPV strain in your throat. (Laryngeal papiolloma)

Unprotected Sexual Intercourse

Although using a condom or spermicides will not give you a 100% success rate of preventing or avoiding genital warts, not using either one is just asking for disaster to befall you.

As I said earlier, if you have sex with a partner who has genital warts, you have a two thirds chance of getting it yourself. By using a condom however, you can significantly cut down on that risk.

Non-monogamous Relationships

This particular “cause” of genital warts can also be split into two sections.

  • Sexual intercourse with more than one partner, and,
  • Sexual intercourse with a partner who has had multiple partner

Both of these leaves room for you to get genital warts, and if you fall into either one of these categories you might want to have a full checkup to make sure that you don’t have HPV even if you don’t display any of the signs or symptoms.

Sexual intercourse with more than one partner

This needn’t be taken to mean that you’re having sexual relations with more than one partner at a time. If you’re sexually active and have had more than one sexual partner over the course of that time, you’re at risk for getting genital warts.

It can also be taken that if you have more than one sexual partner at a time you have a good chance of getting genital HPV.

If your partner has multiple sexual partners

If you have only ever had one sexual partner, but he or she has had more than partner in their lifetime, there’s a chance that you might get genital warts through them.

Since the warts don’t always manifest themselves immediately, there’s a chance that they didn’t realize they have HPV. If this is the case you might become infected without either of you being any the wiser.

There’s also the case that although you might be in a monogamous relationship, your partner might not be, in which case they might be sexually active with one or more other sexual partners.

These are all ways and means by which you can get genital warts without your being aware of it. And that’s why it’s recommended that if you have genital warts, that your sexual partner (or partners) also have an examination for genital warts.

Sexual Intercourse in the Early Teen Years

Although it doesn’t necessarily have to be so, if you start to have sexual relations at a very young age – under 18 – you’re at a risk of getting HPV.

That’s one of the main reasons why a pap smear is recommended for sexually active young girls.

Sexually transmitted diseases are nothing to laugh at, and genital HPV once contracted won’t disappear easily. The infection can sometimes linger for a few years, and the genital can even recur.

This is also the reason that the newly FDA passed vaccine for genital HPV, Gardasil, is recommended as being given as young as 9-12

History of HPV infections

HPV genital warts
HPV genital warts infection

If you have a history of HPV infections, and not necessarily only the strains which produces genital warts, there’s a chance that you might be more susceptible to develop genital warts.

Also if you’ve had genital warts before, it can recur. You might have removed them the first time around, but there’s a chance that you might have to do so again.

Herpes and other STD’s

HPV on lips
Lip infection with the herpes simplex virus

If you have other sexually transmitted diseases like Herpes, you there’s a good chance that you can go on to contract genital HPV as well.

And if your immune system is flagging from its fight with these other STD’s then there’s an equally good chance that you will go on to develop to genital warts as well.

Alcohol and cigarette consumption

Alcohol and cigarette consumption

Studies have shown that when there is a steady consumption of alcohol the risk of developing genital warts is enhanced.

For instance if you have a weekly an alcoholic amount in excess of 2-5 drinksё you have already more than doubled your chances of developing genital warts.

It has also been shown that smokers are also more likely to develop genital warts than people who don’t smoke.

Carcinogens seem to target areas like your cervix if you tend to smoke, leading to a possibility of cervical dsyplasia (abnormal cell changes) occurring, which in turn can lead to cancer.

Use of Steroids and other drugs

Use of Steroids and other drugs

It’s no secret that steroid use is not good for you, and a long term usage of steroids can in some cases lead to a person being more susceptible towards developing genital warts.

The same applies for the use of any type of drug, be it the so-called “recreational” drugs, or abuse of prescription medications.

Long term use of any of these can lead to your body being more open to contracting the HPV infection and developing genital warts.

This holds especially true in the case of immune suppression medications. If you’re taking any of these for medicinal reasons you might want to talk to your doctor about the risk of contracting genital HPV.

Towels, clothing etc

Towels, clothing

In a few rare cases, genital warts have been known to affect people who share towels or even clothing with a person who is infected.

This is why if you or someone else has genital warts, you should keep towels and the like separate until the infection is cured. All of these items should also be washed separately after the person has been cured of their genital warts.

And even otherwise it’s a good idea to keep things like towels and clothes, especially undergarments, separate. This prevents the passing of infections and germs between people to a bare minimum.

Tanning Beds etc.

Tanning Bed

Since warts are highly contagious, things like tanning beds and items used by other people might also harbor the infection. If they are improperly cleaned or maintained, there is a chance that you can get the HPV genital warts infection from these.

Again, it’s something along the lines of using the towel of someone who has genital warts. The risks are the same.

So if you’re not sure whether or not the tanning bed you’re using is clean I would suggest that you avoid it for the moment.

It’s not only tanning beds that can cause you to get genital warts, it’s also things like sex toys, medical equipment which haven’t been cleaned properly, diaphragms and cervical caps which haven’t been cleaned, etc.

Obviously there’s no way that you can be 100% certain that anything you come into contact with hasn’t been infected.

But it does pay to take precautions where you can, like avoiding tanning beds, cleaning any sex toys and such that you might use, cleaning diaphragms and cervical caps, and dental dams if you use them as well.



Although you might not believe it, stress can be a leading factor in the development of genital warts. This is because when a person is stressed or has a stressful lifestyle, their body also becomes stressed.

What this means is that your immune system will also become stressed in trying to cope with the demands placed upon it. It will fight the good fight for as long as it can but at some point in time it will also need to take a break to replenish itself.

This means that if you’re infected with HPV, the minute your guard comes down on your immune system, genital warts can develop.

Take the time to de-stress yourself once in a while and learn to sit back and relax. You need it, your body needs it, and most of all your immune system needs it to fight any invaders in your body.

Poor Nutrition

Poor nutrition and hygiene can also lead to your developing genital warts. As I mentioned earlier, it is entirely possible to have the HPV infection and yet not show any physical signs of it.

However, when you throw poor hygiene habits into the mix along with poor nutrition habits, you lower the guard your body has on invaders and your immune system is no longer able to hold out against such things as an HPV infection which is already residing within you.

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