Sexual Health Q&A

How can genital warts be prevented?

It’s important to avoid skin-to-skin contact with an infected person, especially during an outbreak. Condoms can reduce the risk of transmitting genital warts, but they are not foolproof, as they do not cover all areas of skin. A doctor can give guidance about safe sexual practices. Like many sexually-transmitted infections, genital warts don’t always have signs and symptoms, so partners can spread infections and not even know it.

Genital warts are caused by certain stains of the human papillomavirus (HPV). Gardasil is a vaccine that can protect against some types of HPV that commonly cause genital warts and cervical cancer. Interested patients should consult their healthcare provider. Cervarix, another HPV vaccine, may protect against strains that cause cervical cancer, but not those known to cause genital warts.

It’s important to remember that an HPV vaccine only protects against some forms of HPV. Therefore, it is still critical to have safe sex.

The only guaranteed way to prevent genital warts is to abstain from sexual activity.

People with genital warts should always tell their partners about their diagnosis.