How Often Do HPV Warts Recur? Will It Ever Stop?

More than 3 million people a year get genital warts in the United States. These small flesh-colored (or pink or red) bumps may be individual or grow in clusters in the moist areas around sex organs or in the mouth and throat. Caused by the Human Papillomavirus (HPV), warts are a very common sign of sexually transmitted disease. 

If you or your partner has visible genital warts, you might be wondering:

  • Are visible warts indicative of an STD?
  • Can I get HPV warts from skin contact or only sexual contact?
  • How often do HPV warts recur?
  • Is there a treatment option for HPV warts? 

Since the HPV virus permanently remains in your body, you will always have the option of genital warts recurring. Additionally, even if you or your partner do not have visible warts, you might have an asymptomatic infection. 

Protect yourself from infection by practicing safe sex and getting regular STD testing at Rapid STD Testing.

What Are HPV and Genital Warts?

HPV (human papillomavirus) is a lifelong STD that transmits through:

  • Vaginal sex
  • Anal sex
  • Oral sex
  • Genital-to-genital contact

HPV-infected individuals are usually asymptomatic, with genital warts presenting as late as three months after initial infection.

Hundreds of different strains of HPV exist, and not all of them are harmful to your long-term health. Depending on which type of HPV virus enters an individual’s system, their immune system may be able to fight off the infection without medical assistance.

Contracting HPV Types 6 or 11 makes you more likely to develop genital warts.

If you suspect that you are experiencing itching caused by STD activity, contact us at Rapid STD Testing for same-day STD testing.

Diagnosis and Treatment of HPV 

HPV-positive individuals are more susceptible to contracting:

  • Vulvar cancer
  • Anal cancer
  • Cervical cancer
  • Penile cancer
  • Throat cancer

To mitigate your risk of developing cancer, you should undergo regular STD testing. At Rapid STD Testing, we provide a confidential 10-panel STD test with private online results posted 24-48 hours after your test.

A doctor can perform a visual examination along with a biopsy to accurately diagnose genital warts. Once a doctor has properly diagnosed your wart, you can inform your sexual partners and pursue treatment.

Depending on which type of HPV you have contracted, your doctor might recommend:

1.  A topical treatment: Using a topical ointment such as Podofilox or Imiquimod is often a slower treatment option than other methods. However, you can apply the cream in the privacy of your own home. Typically, you will need to use the topical treatment three nights weekly.

2.  Electrocautery: Doctors will pass an electric current through your warts to burn them off.

3.  Cryotherapy: Cryotherapy uses pulses of extremely cold liquid nitrogen on the infected skin to freeze off genital warts. This treatment has a high efficacy rate, with some patients reporting zero genital warts after one session.

4.  Excising your warts: Doctors will cut warts off at the base. An excision will frequently leave a scar.

5.  Undergoing laser treatment: Doctors can put their patients under local or general anesthesia for pain relief when completing laser treatments. Recovery time typically takes about two to four weeks. Doctors recommend laser treatment for pregnant women.

6.  Photodynamic therapy: Light exposure along with aminolevulinic acid destroys genital warts.

7.  An antiviral injectable: Doctors will inject Interferon into your warts as a last resort.

Unfortunately, there is no cure for HPV, and genital warts can come and go. Some patients reported that their genital warts returned years after treatment.

Why Do Genital Warts Recur?

While an HPV DNA test is available for women, no HPV tests are currently available for men. Even so, the U.S. CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) predicts that at least 50% of the sexually active population will become infected with the HPV virus.

If you are a part of this statistic, you might question: How often do genital warts come back, and why do they come back at all?

Genital warts recur due to a weakened immune system. Known risk factors for recurrent genital warts include:

  • Having a poor diet or suffering from malnutrition
  • Casual smoking or chain-smoking
  • Not undergoing frequent pap tests
  • Undergoing an incomplete wart removal
  • Taking oral contraceptives
  • Not following your doctor’s treatment instructions
  • Having an uncircumcised penis
  • Having high-stress levels
  • Refusing the HPV vaccination
  • Refusing to undergo routine STD testing
  • Engaging in unsafe sex
  • Having a history of STDs
  • Having a large number of sexual partners
  • Not discussing your partner’s sexual health before engaging in sexual activity

Thankfully, there are ways to boost your body’s efficacy when fighting HPV and genital warts.

How Often Do Genital Warts Recur After Treatment?

While we know that HPV remains in your system permanently, we are unsure why genital warts reactivate, and we do not have a definitive timeline for recurrence. Although HPV Types 6 and 11 are often the culprits for causing genital warts, 80 other HPV types can cause the same lesions. Determining which strain causes the highest recurrence rate is an ongoing challenge.

Overall, genital wart recurrence is unpredictable. Genital warts can lie dormant for decades following treatment, and then suddenly, patients will experience an outbreak. However, this is an infrequent circumstance, and most patients experience recurrence three months post-treatment. Men seem to be more likely to experience genital wart recurrence post-treatment than women, but the reasons why are inconclusive.

If you are two years post-treatment without any flare-ups, doctors tend to consider you clear of genital warts. But there is no way to know if you are indeed in the clear or in a latency period.

On rare occasions, patients can suffer from treatment-resistant genital warts, especially immuno-compromised patients, who have more frequent recurrence rates.

Typically, you are less likely to experience genital wart recurrence if you:

  • Receive the vaccination for HPV
  • Have a low amount of the virus in your bloodstream
  • Have a strain with a low recurrence rate
  • Have a strong immune system

Ultimately, everyone’s immune system reacts differently to viruses. That’s why it is crucial to stay up-to-date on your sexual health care and to remain vigilant by informing your partners of your health status and practicing safe sex.

Can You Prevent Genital Warts From Recurring?

Although contracting the HPV virus is a likely outcome for most sexually active adults, developing genital warts from HPV is not as common. If you end up finding small raised bumps on or inside your genitals or anus, you should see a doctor immediately for an accurate diagnosis.

Some of the most-asked questions from patients with warts are “Can you get HPV warts twice?” and “How often do HPV warts recur?” The answers are yes and frequently. But immunotherapy might help to strengthen your immune system and prevent recurring genital warts outbreaks.

Other ways to bolster your immune system include:

  • Maintaining a nutritious diet
  • Quitting smoking
  • Reducing your stress levels through exercise, meditation, journaling, therapy, or other  relaxing activities 

If you wish to help prevent your partner from contracting genital warts, you should:

  • Practice safe sex by using condoms
  • Encourage your partner to book routine pap tests and undergo frequent STD testing
  • Encourage your partner to receive the HPV vaccination 

Be advised that condoms do not cover your entire genital region, so using condoms could still result in HPV transmission. Due to this risk, you should always be upfront with your sexual partners about your sexual history before engaging in sexual activity. 

If you want to present your partner with your full sexual health history, contact Rapid STD testing for up-to-date test results.

Take Control of Your Sexual Health With Rapid STD Testing

Discover the answers for frequently asked STD questions like how often HPV warts recur by logging on to Rapid STD Testing’s website today. If you think you may have genital warts, be sure to schedule an HPV test right away and see your doctor to have the wart removed.