My Partner Has Genital Warts, Will I Get Them?

Genital warts can occur when you have sexual contact with someone infected with the HPV (human papillomavirus). 

HPV is a sexually transmitted infection that needs to be detected early in order to prevent its spread to your sexual partner.

In this article, we will discuss whether you can get genital warts if your partner has them. You will also learn what causes genital warts and what they look like.

What Are the Chances of My Partner Giving Me Genital Warts?

The chances of your partner giving you genital warts are higher if your partner has an HPV infection.

Genital warts spread via sexual skin-to-skin contact with a person who has an HPV infection. The warts can spread during vaginal, oral, and anal sex. 

It is estimated that about 10% of people who are infected transmit this virus. 

Avoiding sexual contact or practicing safe sex can reduce the chances of your partner spreading the HPV infection to you and reduce your likelihood of getting genital warts.

Hence, it is important to be aware of the common signs of genital warts and other sexually transmitted infections and avoid contact with the mouth or genitals of a person infected with this condition.

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How Do Genital Warts Spread?

HPV, which is the most common cause of genital warts, tends to spread among sexually active people. 

Genital warts are transmitted when the skin or mucus membranes of the infected person comes in contact with that of another person, typically during vaginal, anal, or oral sex. 

Moreover, it is possible to spread genital warts, even when there are no visible growths on your genitals. 

This can occur because the warts take time to develop and become visible after a person is infected.

Hence, it is important to practice safe sex and use condoms or dental dams even when there are no visible genital warts to reduce your chances of getting the infection.

What Are The Signs of Genital Warts?

Some common signs and symptoms of genital warts include:

  • Appearance of one or more bumps or abnormal growths on the genitals
  • Greyish, whitish, or flesh-colored growths around the vagina, anus, penis, or upper thighs
  • Itching
  • Mild to moderate discomfort
  • Changes to the flow of urine
  • Bleeding from the vagina or anus

If you notice any bumps or abnormal growths on your genitals, you must consult your doctor to get the right diagnosis. 

Your doctor might recommend certain tests to confirm or rule out the diagnosis of genital warts. 

You can also talk to your doctor about the safe ways for dating with HPV to reduce the chances of spreading the infection.

What Do Genital Warts Look Like?

Genital warts typically look like bumps that appear on the vulva, vagina, cervix, or anus in women and the penis, scrotum, or anus in men. In rare cases, the growth may appear on the thighs or could be internal.

These bumps appear whitish, greying, flesh- or skin-colored, and look like tiny pieces of cauliflower. 

You may have just one wart or several of them of different sizes. In some cases, the warts tend to be itchy, but they usually do not cause any pain.

Some bumps on the genitals could be due to infections other than HPV. However, when the growths appear typically like small pieces of cauliflower, they are likely to be HPV warts.

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What Causes Genital Warts?

Infection by the HPV or human papillomavirus is one of the most common causes of genital warts.

HPV is also the most common sexually transmitted disease responsible for causing genital lesions. 

There are nearly 40 strains of HPV that can affect the genital area and cause warts and other symptoms.

Sexual transmission is the most common cause of genital warts.

However, some cases of the spread of this virus through non-sexual routes are also reported. 

Some uncommon causes of the spread of this infection include non-sexual contact with the mouth, skin, or fingers and fomites.

Do Genital Warts Stay with You For Life?

No, in most cases, genital warts go away with treatment using appropriate prescription medications.

Some people living with HPV do not experience any symptoms. They may continue to spread the infection to their sexual partners for as long as the infection persists in their body.

If left untreated, the infection often resolves spontaneously over a period of around 2 years without causing any serious health concerns. In such cases, genital warts might stay the same, go away, or grow in number or size.

However, in some rare cases, genital warts persist, putting patients at risk of cancer. This may happen when certain strains of HPV cause the infection. 

Talking To Your Doctor About HPV

It is important not to ignore any abnormal growths or bumps that you have on your genitals and consult your physician to know the best treatments needed to clear the infection and prevent its spread to others.

Your doctor might recommend appropriate medications to reduce genital warts and clear the infection. 

Taking the HPV vaccine is also recommended to protect against contracting the infection and developing genital warts in the future. 

You can also discuss your HPV dating concerns with your doctor, such as, “My girlfriend has high-risk HPV, what do I do?” or “Can you get HPV if you only have one partner.”

How to Prevent Getting Genital Warts

If you suspect you have genital warts, consult with a healthcare professional to explore appropriate treatments and prevent transmission to your partner.

Here are some of the most effective strategies recommended for the prevention of genital warts.

Practice safe sex

Practicing safe sex is an effective method to prevent genital warts and other sexually transmitted infections.

You can use barrier methods of protection, such as condoms and dental dams, during vaginal and oral sex, respectively. 

The barrier method of protection can reduce your risk of HPV as well as other sexually transmitted infections, including HIV.

However, it cannot protect you completely as you may still get the virus during close skin-to-skin contact during sex.

Get the HPV vaccine

If you are sexually active, make sure you talk to your doctor about getting the HPV vaccine.

There are several brands of HPV vaccines that can protect you against the common types of human papillomavirus that cause genital warts.

However, you must remember that the HPV vaccines can offer protection only against certain types of this virus. For example, most viruses can protect against:

  • Types 6 and 11, known to cause genital warts.
  • Types 16 and 18, responsible for most cases of cervical cancer.
  • And types 31, 52, and 58, that can cause cancer.

These vaccines are available for people of all genders. Though a vaccine will not treat your current HPV infection, it will protect you from contracting a different type of HPV.

Encourage your partner to get tested

If you have genital warts, it is possible that you have contracted the infection during sexual contact with your partner or are likely to spread this infection to them. 

Hence, it is important to ask your sexual partner to get tested for the HPV infection.

If you have genital warts, it is important that both you and your partner get tested and treated for it in order to prevent recurrence.

You can also encourage your partner to talk with a doctor about taking the HPV vaccine.

In addition, you must inform your sexual partners if you have genital warts before having sex so that you can work together to prevent the spread.

Avoid sex during active infection

If you or your partner have visible warts, you must avoid sex, even with a condom, because the infection can spread from the places that come in contact with your skin or mucosa that is not covered by the condom.

You and your partner must wait until the infection is completely cleared before you have sex.

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Eat a healthy diet

Maintaining a healthy diet can support your overall well-being but does not substitute for professional medical advice and treatment in clearing infections.

Eating a healthy and nutritious diet that is composed of essential nutrients, such as vitamins and minerals, can boost your immunity and improve your body’s ability to fight infections. 

It can also help clear the infection and allow you to recover fully in a shorter duration.

This is also a great way to follow if you are concerned about how to prevent genital warts from coming back.

Stop smoking

If you smoke, you might have a higher chance of getting warts than those who do not smoke. Also, you are more likely to have a recurrence of genital warts if you smoke. 

Hence, it is important to stop smoking to reduce your risk of having genital warts. 


Genital warts occur due to an infection by HPV. Practicing safe sex and taking the HPV vaccine are the most effective methods to protect yourself against getting genital warts from your partner.

You should also be aware of the signs of genital warts and inspect the potential areas that can get infected, such as the vagina and penis, for abnormal growths in order to get an early diagnosis.

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  1. Leslie SW, Sajjad H, Kumar S. Genital Warts. 2023 May 30. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2023 Jan–. PMID: 28722914.
  2. CDC. Human Papillomavirus (HPV).
  3. Petca A, Borislavschi A, Zvanca ME, Petca RC, Sandru F, Dumitrascu MC. Non-sexual HPV transmission and role of vaccination for a better future (Review). Exp Ther Med. 2020 Dec;20(6):186. doi: 10.3892/etm.2020.9316. Epub 2020 Oct 13. PMID: 33101476; PMCID: PMC7579832.
  4. Hansen BT, Hagerup-Jenssen M, Kjaer SK, Munk C, Tryggvadottir L, Sparén P, Liaw KL, Nygård M. Association between smoking and genital warts: longitudinal analysis. Sex Transm Infect. 2010 Aug;86(4):258-62. doi: 10.1136/sti.2009.038273. PMID: 20660589.

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