Expert Answers Factual Answers to Your Sexual Health Questions
Is it possible to have genital warts inside the vagina? What’s the treatment?
I’m a 25-year-old female and I have genital warts on the inside of my vagina–not on my vulva. Is there anything I can do to get rid of them? I’ve had them for over nine months and sometimes they go away and come back. Are there any holistic or natural medicines I could use instead?
Ruthann M. Cunningham, MD on August 11, 2011
First, let me assure you that you’re not alone...a lot of women experience genital warts internally. Most doctors call these “vaginal warts.” Vaginal warts (genital warts inside the vagina) are almost always caused by human papillomavirus (HPV) types 6 and 11.There are many types of HPV, but these are the two that cause most genital warts. Genital warts are spread through direct physical contact with someone who has a type of HPV that causes genital warts...including vaginal sex, oral sex, anal sex, touching the genitals, or genital contact.
To get a firm diagnosis of HPV and genital warts, I encourage you to visit a health care provider. A doctor will be able to test and determine, for sure, whether you are HPV-positive. And if you are, your doctor can prescribe the right treatment for you. The good news is that, typically, when people stick to the prescribed treatment schedule for its full duration, most people’s warts clear up within three weeks. For more information, you might want to browse our HPV Overview.
For vaginal warts, experts recommend a medicine that a doctor or nurse can apply directly on the warts. Your healthcare provider can apply a weekly application for up to six weeks, as necessary. In general,the U.S. Food and Drug Administration doesn't recommend holistic cures for genital warts. By pursuing unproven treatments, a patient risks delaying the proper needed treatment.
Just so you know, a different kind of common therapy for genital warts called cryotherapy – essentially freezing the warts – isn’t recommended for vaginal warts, either, because it could damage the vaginal walls.
I also encourage you to talk with your doctor about testing for other common STDS – especially herpes simplex virus (HSV-2). It’s possible that the symptoms you’re experiencing are due to the herpes simplex virus (HSV-2) and not HPV. If that’s the case, you can get tested for herpes and get the right kind of treatment for any outbreaks you have. I also encourage you to get tested for some other common STDs, like chlamydia, gonorrhea and HIV. Why? Because if you have one STD, you’re at a greater risk for others...so it’s worth your while, and your peace of mind, to get tested.
If you do have an STD, you can get on the right track for treatment right away and avoid potentially serious health problems down the road.
I wish you a good luck in resolving your symptoms and your discomfort.
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.