In London, there has been a notable increase in the demand for cryotherapy for the treatment of genital warts. This surge in demand is attributed to the growing awareness of the effectiveness of cryotherapy in removing genital warts, coupled with a rise in the incidence of human papillomavirus (HPV) infections, which cause genital warts. Cryotherapy, which involves freezing the warts with liquid nitrogen, is a popular and effective treatment option. However, the increased demand for this treatment is putting pressure on sexual health clinics in the city, many of which are already struggling with limited resources and a high volume of patients seeking services for various sexual health issues. Clinics are responding by expanding their cryotherapy services, hiring more trained staff, and extending their operating hours. However, there are concerns that the demand will continue to outpace the available resources, leading to longer waiting times for patients seeking treatment. Health officials are urging individuals to get vaccinated against HPV to prevent genital warts and other related cancers, and are encouraging those with symptoms to seek treatment as soon as possible.
What is Cryotherapy?
Cryo means to involve or produce something cold. So in effect, Cryotherapy means cold therapy. Cold therapy is a technique many health care professionals use for many different reasons, but here, we refer to the freezing and removing of abnormal tissue such as warts.
Cryotherapy for genital warts
Cryotherapy for genital warts is a treatment much like what we perform for warts found elsewhere on the body. Cryotherapy involves spraying liquid nitrogen onto the affected area to freeze the warts. Often up to three applications are needed per visit.
This treatment has a 90% success rate, but it’s important to understand that repeated treatments are generally required, as the HPV virus that causes warts can be very persistent.
Can I treat genital warts at home?
We do not recommend over-the-counter medicine for genital warts, and pharmacy cryo treatments are not to be used on or near the genitals. Additionally, over-the-counter cryo treatments are not designed for genital warts.
It is often the case that over-the-counter treatments such as creams and liquids can take longer to cure warts; therefore, it is also best practice to seek medical treatment to prevent the spread and warts from being passed on.
Are genital warts contagious after freezing?
Yes, you will have some time between treatment and not being contagious. However, as a rule of thumb, we say six months after treatments have ended, and if warts have not returned, you should consider yourself “wart” free and therefore unable to pass on warts to another person.
Remember, genital warts are caused by HPV. Therefore, treatments for genital warts does not always treat the cause.
So, be sure to follow these steps to prevent the spread of warts, HPV and any other sexual infections:
- Use a condom every time you have sex
- Do not share sex toys
- Abstain from sex if you have genital warts
- Limit your number of sexual partners
- Keep open communication with your sexual partners
- Get at least yearly sexual health checkups (or more frequently if you have multiple partners or symptoms)
HPV and genital warts
Genital warts are caused by certain types of human papillomavirus (HPV). HPV infections will typically go away on their own; however, this can take years; therefore, you should always practise safe sex to prevent the spread.
Many people relate HPV to cancer, but the HPV types which cause genital warts ( typically type 6 and 11), are usually considered low risk.
It is important to know HPV does not always lead to cancer, but we must stress the importance of regular pap smears for all those exposed to HPV, especially those infected with the higher-risk types. This includes anal pap smears for anyone who has receptive anal sex.
You can find more information on HPV and the HPV vaccine in our monthly articles and on the website.
If you wish to be tested for HPV or have any sexual health concerns, you can book an appointment to see one of our sexual health specialists.
How do I know if I have genital warts?
Genital warts appear like small bumps and, like warts and verrucas found elsewhere on the body, they can be in clusters, raised, flat, or dotted around the infected area. The one way of knowing you have a problem is first recognising it. Often people will notice a difference visually. Most of the time, genital warts are painless.
You may, however, feel the area is itchy or warm. Some may even notice bleeding. Any changes would warrant concern, and we advise you to seek confirmation from a medical professional.
Genital warts can be found on or near the
If you have any of the above symptoms, are concerned about HPV or wish to book a sexual health check-up get in touch with us today.
Dr Wayne Cottrell is our on-site sexual health specialist who has been providing professional care for over 20 years. Along with his team, Dr Wayne Cottrell offers same-day appointments and same or next-day results for many tests, with onsite treatment provided and tailored solutions to each individual.