Hi Dr. Kate, 

I went to the gyno this month to have her look at a bump on my labia--and was diagnosed with HPV/genital warts, which was what I sort of figured I had. I felt bad and whatnot; I also had a talk with my boyfriend about me having HPV. I've read about it and tried get more educated about HPV, but I need some help. What can I do to get rid of the bumps faster? (I was prescribed Aldara.) Also, how can my boyfriend and I have safer sex (besides using condoms)? Since we're sure we both have it (even though he has no symptoms)...how does that work? Can we re-infect each other? If you have advice on how to live with it better that would be great too. 

HPV Newbie 

Dear Newbie, 

Faster treatment for warts include TCA (a topical solution applied by your gyno weekly until the bump disappears) and laser therapy (usually reserved for large warty patches, not just a single wart). TCA burns a bit, but generally works faster than Aldara, so it's another good option. Condoms do reduce HPV, but genital-to-genital contact alone can spread the infection. There's nothing else you and your guy can do to reduce your risk, though it's unclear whether or not a couple can pass the virus back and forth. The best news I can give you (and the truth!) is that if you're healthy (no diabetes or HIV and you don't smoke), you're likely to cure yourself of the virus within a year or two. Once this wart disappears, you can keep an eye out for others, but especially if your boyfriend doesn't show any warts, you're likely clearing the virus. So it's not something you're stuck with forever. But if you have any other partners in the future, it's a good reminder to keep using condoms to reduce your HPV risk. 

Best of luck, 
Dr. Kate


H said:

Had them 20 years ago. Diligent application of liquid nitrogen by a dermatologist whenever they reared their ugly little heads killed them off; after 10 months or so. Technically they never leave but my wife has been asymptomatic for 20 years so...

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