Causes of genital warts

Genital warts are caused by the human papilloma virus (HPV).

HPV is not a single virus, but a family ofmore than100 different strains of viruses.However, mostcases of genital warts are caused by two strains of the virustype 6 and type 11.

Most cases of HPV infectiondo not have visible symptoms, so many people can be infected with HPV without realising.

It is still possible to pass on genital warts if they are not currently visible.

HPV transmission

The most common way HPV can be passed from person to person is through skin to skin contact. This is usually sexual activity such as:

  • vaginal sex
  • anal sex
  • non-penetrative genital to genital contact
  • sharing sex toys
  • in very rare cases,oral sex

HPV is not passed on through kissing, hugging or sharing towels, clothing and everydayitems such as cutlery or a toilet seat.

Acondom can help protect against genital warts. However, as it does not cover all of the genital area, it may still be possible to pass HPV on to uncovered areas of skin.

In rare cases, a mother can pass HPV on to her newborn baby during birth.

In very rarecases, someone withHPV warts on their hands could pass on an infectionby touching somebody else's genitals.

Content supplied by the NHS Website

Medically Reviewed by a doctor on 20 Jun 2016