Condyloma (Genital Warts)

Condyloma is the medical term for genital warts.

Genital warts are soft, noncancerous growths that can form on the skin on the outside or inside of your vagina or anus, or inside the cervix (the lower part of the uterus that connects to the vagina).

In some cases they can also be found on the lips, mouth, tongue and throat. 

Patients can be seen by Texas Children's experts in Pediatric and Adolescent Gynecology.

Causes & Risk Factors

Condyloma or genital warts are caused by the human papillomavirus (HPV), one of the most common sexually transmitted infections.

While genital warts in adults are usually spread by sexual contact, in children they may also be transmitted through nonsexual ways, such as from an infected mother to her infant or through direct manual contact. However, if a child has genital warts there is the possibility of sexual abuse or early sexual activity.

The disease is highly contagious, even if no warts are visible. The incubation period may be several weeks or months.

Symptoms & Types

Symptoms may include:

  • Small, skin-colored or gray spots in your genital area that are raised or flat
  • Several warts close together that are shaped like a cauliflower
  • Itching or discomfort in your genital area
  • Increased vaginal discharge
  • Bleeding during or after sex

Diagnosis & Tests

Diagnosis is typically made through a physical exam of the genital area.

Additional testing may include:

  • A pelvic exam and/or Pap smear 
  • Colposcopy – an exam using a magnifying instrument called a colposcope to spot warts that cannot be seen with the naked eye, or to look inside the vagina and on the cervix
  • An HPV test to look for a high-risk type of HPV known to cause cervical cancer
  • A biopsy – tissue samples are taken and examined under a microscope
  • Testing for other sexually transmitted infection (STIs)

Treatment & Care

Treatment depends on the individual patient and her symptoms. Often the warts will go away after time without treatment.

Treatment strategies include:

  • Prescription medications
  • Cryotherapy – Freezing the warts with liquid nitrogen
  • Laser treatment
  • Electrodesiccation – Uses an electric current to destroy the warts
  • Surgical removal