Using a condom every time you have sex can significantly reduce your risk of contracting genital warts. Although condom use can reduce your risk, it is not 100 percent effective. You can still get genital warts.

Vaccination now available

A vaccine known as Gardasil protects against the strains of HPV that cause most genital warts. Gardasil also protects against the HPV strains most likely to cause cervical cancer. Another vaccine, called Cervarix, protects against cervical cancer but not genital warts.

The national Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices recommends routine HPV vaccination for girls and boys ages 11 and 12. If not fully vaccinated at that age, it's recommended that girls and women through age 26 and boys and men through age 21 receive the vaccine. However, men may receive the HPV vaccine through age 26 if desired.

These vaccines are most effective if given to children before they become sexually active. Research has shown that people under 21 and age 21 to 30 who receive the HPV vaccine can reduce their risk of getting genital warts by up to 50 percent.

Side effects from the vaccines are usually mild and include soreness at the injection site (the upper arm), headaches, low-grade fever or flu-like symptoms. Sometimes dizziness or fainting occurs after the injection, especially in adolescents.

Jan. 02, 2014

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