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Genital warts

foto van een jongen

Genital warts grow on or around your penis, vagina or anus. They are passed on through sex, especially if someone has visible warts at that moment. The warts are caused by a wart virus: HPV. Genital warts are not harmful and mostly go away by themselves. If they bother you,  you can get treatment. 

Video: Doctor Hanna about genital warts


How do you know they are genital warts?

  • Genital warts look like small cauliflowers. They are reddish-pink or greyish-white
  • You’ll usually get a few small warts first.  Often they will then grow and spread
  • They may be itchy or painful
  • They can also grow in your vagina or anus. Then you won’t see them


Genital warts are not harmful. They don’t necessarily have to be treated. But if they bother you, there are treatments you can try: 

  • You can apply a cream to them
  • The doctor can remove the warts by heating them or applying a liquid
  • If there are many of them, the doctor may remove them surgically. This is done under local anaesthetic

The warts may come back. Because the virus that causes them often remains in your body. 

Wart virus: HPV

Genital warts are caused by a virus: HPV. Many people have had an HPV infection. There are all different types of HPV. A few of them can cause warts on your penis, vagina or anus.

You can get an injection to prevent infection with genital warts. That’s called vaccination. This works the most effectively if you’ve never had genital warts. You do have to pay for the vaccination yourself. If you want to do that, talk to your doctor.

Some types of HPV can cause cervical cancer. Free vaccination is available for this. Haven’t you had that yet? Ask your doctor or a GGD health centre about it. If you were born between 1 January 1996 and 31 December 2003, then vaccination is free. This vaccine doesn’t protect you against genital warts.

Read more about HPV-vaccination