Genital Warts | Prevention

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How do I prevent genital warts?

Genital warts are a sexually transmitted infection (STI) caused by the human papilloma virus (HPV). The only sure way to prevent genital warts is not to have sex. Using a condom may help prevent you from getting HPV, but condoms are not 100% effective. They do not cover all the affected skin, and you may still get HPV, even if you use a condom.

What about the HPV vaccine?

There are two types of HPV vaccine. Both types help protect against the HPV strains that are most likely to cause cervical cancer. One type also helps protect against the HPV strains that are most likely to cause genital warts.

Routine HPV vaccination is recommended for the following groups of people:

  • Boys and girls ages 11 to 21
  • Women ages 22 to 26
  • Men ages 22 to 26 years of age who have a compromised immune system
  • Gay and bisexual men

The vaccines are given as shots (injections in the upper arm) and require 3 doses. The vaccine is most effective if children receive it before they start having sex.

Written by familydoctor.org editorial staff

Reviewed/Updated: 04/14
Created: 09/00

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