Expert Answers Factual Answers to Your Sexual Health Questions

anonymous on September 23, 2011

Could I give genital warts to a sexual partner through my ejaculate?

I’ve had genital warts, but now they’re gone. Can I still infect others with my ejaculate?

answered by Ruthann M. Cunningham, MD on September 23, 2011

Thanks for your important question about how genital warts are spread.

First, a reminder that genital warts are caused by the human papillomavirus (HPV)...and while HPV is treatable, it’s not curable. So if you have the type HPV that causes genital warts, you’re still at risk of passing the virus to others...even if you no longer have any visible symptoms. 

That said, HPV is not spread through ejaculate. Unlike some other STDs that are transmitted through bodily fluids (e.g., ejaculate or blood), HPV is spread through skin-to-skin contact...most often during sexual activity, including vaginal, anal or oral sex. 

To reduce the risk of spreading HPV, practice safer sex. If your genital warts return, I suggest that you not have sex until they’re treated and gone again. Why? Because you run a higher risk of infecting your sex partner with HPV when your infection is active. 

When your symptoms are dormant, make sure to talk to your partner about the risks of your HPV infection and take appropriate precautions. That is, use a condom to decrease the chances that you’ll pass HPV to your partner. But remember, a condom can only protect the area of skin it covers...because the HPV virus can live all around the genital area, it’s possible that you could still spread the disease even while using protection. 

For more information about HPV transmission and prevention, you might want to skim some similar questions or check out our HPV Overview

Thanks again for writing, and I wish you and your partner(s) good health. 

Related info:

Ruthann M. Cunningham, MD

Dr. Cunningham is a member of the Analyte Physicans Group. She's also a member of the American College of Emergency Physicians, practicing at both Northwestern Lake Forest Hospital in Illinois and at Wheaton Franciscan All Saints Medical Center in Wisconsin. An ER physician since 2000, she regularly treats patients with STDs. Dr. Cunningham was educated at Wayne State University School of Medicine and completed her Emergency Medicine residency at Cook County Hospital in Chicago, IL.

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