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Anonymous on September 19, 2011

I have recurring genital warts...is my diabetes a factor?

I’ve had condlyoma for about four years. I’ve used Aldara cream and I’ve had LEEP on them, but two months later they came back. I need some help getting rid of them. I know the virus won’t go away, but I’d like it if the appearance could improve. I also have diabetes and I know that doesn’t help. Can you help? 

answered by
Ruthann M. Cunningham, MD on September 19, 2011

You’ve asked an important question. Having condlyoma (more commonly called genital warts) for such a long time must be frustrating. 

In your case, it sounds like the warts aren’t reacting well to the particular treatment you describe. The good news is that there are different treatments that you and your doctor can try to hopefully get your warts resolved.

When it comes to treating genital warts, there are several options...usually, doctors consider the size and number of genital warts before prescribing treatment. Some options are the treatment cream you used ⎼ a medication that can help your body manage HPV by boosting your own immune system. 

Or, if the warts are big, a doctor might recommend a surgery procedure like LEEP (loop electrosurgical excision procedure). Your doctor could also treat you with a type of chemical that will kill the wart cells. I encourage you to re-visit these and other treatment options with your regular doctor. And for more information about the type of HPV that causes genital warts, see our HPV Overview

Also, you’re right that diabetes might not be helping your genital warts. A 2010 study found that women with diabetes have more extensive warts, and that the warts tend to come back more often after treatment. In other words, diabetes can make it more difficult for your body’s immune system to deal with the genital warts. So make sure your doctor is also aware of your diabetes, in order to determine the best treatment for your warts. 

Finally, get regular Pap tests. You seem to be monitoring your body well, so I hope you’ve been getting regular Pap tests, too. If you haven’t, I recommend you take this step to monitor for cervical cancer caused by a different type of HPV. The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommends that all women start getting Pap tests by the time they turn 21 to screen for abnormal cells.

Thanks again for your question. I sympathize with your concern and hope that your symptoms will soon be resolved. 

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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