These warts are caused by the human papillomavirus (HPV). HPV is the most common viral STI the United States. It is spread through vaginal or anal sex. It can be passed even when an infected person has no symptoms.
The warts that develop are painless, fleshy, cauliflower-looking bumps. They grow on the penis or in and around the entrance of the vagina or anus. HPV may eventually cause cervical cancer.
Fortunately, there is a successful vaccine to prevent HPV and genital warts. The vaccine is given to children age 11 or 12, or for people age 20-26. There is no known cure for genital warts. However, they can be treated with topical ointments. Sometimes they can be removed with minor surgical procedures (e.g., cautery (freezing or burning off the wart), chemicals, or laser). Vaccine is the best prevention.