Human papilloma virus (HPV) is the virus that causes genital warts. There are several types of HPV viruses, up to 100 different types. Some of the HPV viruses cause genital warts.
HPV infection might not cause visible genital warts. So a person might be infected without knowing.
In women, warts may grow outside genital areas, in the vagina, and on the cervix. In some cases, HPV is the reason a Pap smear is abnormal. Getting regular Pap tests, once or twice a year, might decrease the risk of cervical cancer due to HPV.
In men, warts may grow on the penis, near the anus or between the penis and scrotum.
The warts may be small, flat or raised, flesh-colored bumps, or tiny, cauliflower-like bumps. Some of the genital warts (condylomata) are pink others are yellow-gray color. Some are soft and others are hard. The warts vary in size and may even be so small that you cannot see them. Sometimes you can find one wart, other times they grow in groups. So, genital warts come in several colors, sizes, and textures. This makes them hard to detect (find).
Very rarely, genital warts will be found around the lower abdomen area and in the upper thighs. Also, they might develop in areas where sexual contact is possible, such as: the throat, mouth, lips, eyelids, or nipples of the breasts.
In women, they can lead to cancer of the cervix. In men, they can lead to cancer of the penis.
Genital warts do not really hurt, unless the person scratches or picks them. At times, genital warts might be itchy. Other times, warts might bleed or have painful discharge (liquid coming out of them).