Every year 500,000 to a million people get genital warts men AND women. Theyre ugly, contagious, and treatment can be downright painful, but are they a major health risk? Luckily, the answer is NO. Theres a common myth that having genital warts put you at risk for cancer. The confusion is based on the fact that genital warts and cervical cancer are both caused by the human papillomavirusalso called HPV--but by very different strands. So how can you tell if youve contracted this STD? Genital warts are rough or smooth surfaced, fleshy growths that can be found on the penis, vagina, around the anus, and in rare cases in and around the mouth. But sexual intercourse isnt the only way to pass them along-- transmission can also happen during oral sex or other skin-to-skin contact. Once contracted, it can take anywhere from 6 weeks to 6 MONTHS before warts appear. Because other STDs can also cause bumps to grow down there, visit your doctor to have them checked out. With time, genital warts will eventually go away on their own. Because of their location, they can become uncomfortable, so getting them treated is better than waiting. NEVER try to get rid of them with over-the-counter wart removers. Because the skin is very sensitive on your genitals, these peels can end up causing more pain and irritation. Instead, opt for one of the treatments your doctor has to offer. Some topical medications help your immune system fight off warts, while others kill off the wart tissue. Also, your doctor can use trichloroacetic acid to burn off the warts, or use liquid nitrogen to freeze the skin and kill the infected tissue. Even after all warts are gone, youre not totally in the clear. The virus will always live in your system, meaning the warts can come back at any time. To avoid passing them to your partner, abstain from sex until youve been treated. And in the future, always use a condom. If you dont have genital warts, another option for protecting yourself is the HPV vaccine, Gardasil. You probably thought that Gardasil was only for females, but the FDA has approved it for use in males ages 9-26. Gardasil protects you from multiple strands of HPV, 2 of those being ones that cause genital warts. For more ways to keep everything below the belt problem-free, check out the other videos in this series.