Female sex workers

Genital warts

What are genital warts?

  • Genital warts (condylomata acuminata) can be transmitted by sexual contact.  
  • They are very contagious but benign.  
  • You will find pinkish red to greyish white warts around the genitalia or the anus.  
  • The warts have a diameter of 1 to 5 mm and are close to each other.  The surface looks like a cauliflower.

What causes genital warts?

  • Genital warts are caused by the human papilloma virus (HPV) types 6 and 11. 
  • This virus is transmitted during sex (touching, rubbing) on the skin or the mucous membrane. 
  • The use of a condom cannot completely prevent this, because the warts can also occur outside the protective area of a condom.  
  • An infection is also possible through fingers or the use of a towel or wash cloth of someone with genital warts.

What are the complaints?

  • Not everyone who is infected by the virus gets warts.  
  • Warts can occur one to eight months after the infection.  
  • Sometimes these warts are only annoying to look at, but sometimes you can have some itching, pain or burning feeling and some discharge from the vagina or urethra. 
  • With a woman they are sometimes hard to see because they disappear between the labia.  But they can also occur around the clitoris or the anus. 
  • Sometimes there are also warts in the vagina and on the cervix. 
  • With a man the warts are more visible because they can usually be found on and around the base of the penis, at the exit of the urethra, on the scrotum or around the anus. 
  • In case of anal sex, the warts can occur in the anus or perineum.

How can they be diagnosed?

  • Warts are visible with the naked eye and can be found at various places around the genitalia. It is immediately obvious that these are warts.


  • Genital warts are contagious, so it is best to have them treated.  
  • Warts can be treated by means of the application of a cream or the doctor can use a fluid to freeze them.  
  • The choice of the treatment will depend on the size and number of warts.  
  • If the warts are deep in your vagina or anus, a specialist treatment is necessary.  You will be referred to a dermatologist, gynaecologist or surgeon.  
  • Warts can come back after the treatment!

Warning partners

  • Because genital warts are contagious, you must inform your sex partners.  
  • If your partner is not yet infected, you can try to avoid this, for instance by not having sex when you have warts.  
  • It is not necessary to inform your previous sex partners.

Work advice

  • Genital warts can occur in places that are not covered by a condom.  This way the warts can be transmitted very easily. So do not have oral, vaginal or anal sex if you have or see warts.
  • If the warts are gone, you can start working again, but it is still possible to transmit the virus.  Therefore always use a condom for vaginal, oral and anal sex.


The leaflet