Diagnosis

Because it's often difficult to detect genital warts, your doctor may apply a mild acetic acid solution to your genitals to whiten any warts. Then, he or she may view them through a special magnifying instrument, a colposcope.

Pap tests

For women, it's important to have regular pelvic exams and Pap tests, which can help detect vaginal and cervical changes caused by genital warts or the early signs of cervical cancer — a possible complication of genital HPV infection.

During a Pap test, your doctor will use a device called a speculum to hold open your vagina. He or she will then use a long-handled tool to collect a small sample of cells from your cervix — the passage between your vagina and your uterus. The cells are examined with a microscope for abnormalities.

HPV test

Only a few types of genital HPV have been linked to cervical cancer. A sample of cervical cells, taken during a Pap test, can be tested for these cancer-causing HPV strains.

This test is generally reserved for women ages 30 and older. It isn't as useful for younger women because their immune systems usually can kill even cancer-causing varieties of genital HPV without treatment.

Nov. 19, 2016
References
  1. Habif TP. Sexually transmitted viral infections. In: Clinical Dermatology: A Color Guide to Diagnosis and Therapy. 6th ed. Edinburgh, U.K.; New York, N.Y.: Mosby Elsevier; 2016. https://www.clinicalkey.com. Accessed Sept. 9, 2016.
  2. Genital HPV infection: Fact sheet. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. http://www.cdc.gov/std/HPV/STDFact-HPV.htm. Accessed Sept. 9, 2016.
  3. Breen E, et al. Condylomata acuminata (anogenital warts). http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed Sept. 9, 2016.
  4. Bennett JE, et al. Papillomaviruses. In: Mandell, Douglas, and Bennett's Principles and Practice of Infectious Diseases. 8th ed. Philadelphia, Pa.: Saunders Elsevier; 2015. https://www.clinicalkey.com. Accessed Sept. 9, 2016.
  5. Goldman L, et al., eds. Papillomavirus. In: Goldman-Cecil Medicine. 25th ed. Philadelphia, Pa.: Saunders Elsevier; 2016. http://www.clinicalkey.com. Accessed Sept. 9, 2016.
  6. Gynecologic cancers: What should I know about screening? Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. http://www.cdc.gov/cancer/cervical/basic_info/screening.htm. Accessed Sept. 9, 2016.
  7. Human Papillomavirus (HPV). Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. http://www.cdc.gov/hpv/parents/questions-answers.html. Accessed Sept. 9, 2016.