[Question #1372] freaking out--genital warts

84 months ago
I communicated with Dr. Handsfield the other day about my anxiety over cervical cancer…because I haven't had a pap in nearly 5 years and have a history of abnormal paps/HPV/CIN1 (although last two paps clear). Today I noticed some small growths near the opening of my vagina on one side. After looking online I feel like it's definitely genital warts. The biggest one (and the one I could feel which is what prompted me to look) sort of hangs off and is maybe 3mm.  Then a couple other smaller things, and on the other side some tiny rough spots that look like maybe same thing? I was never told that I had the type of HPV that causes warts, and nor has my husband. We've been together almost 10 years, and no one has cheated--I'm pretty much positive of this. What am I supposed to think? ! I have no idea how long these have been there--I've been checking everything out more lately because of heightened anxiety. 
H. Hunter Handsfield, MD
84 months ago
Sorry you felt the need to return to the forum over this. The chance is very low you have genital warts caused by the HPV infection that caused your abnormal pap smear a few years ago. Among other things, warts rarely persist so long. My guess is they aren't warts at all, perhaps just skin tags -- and as you imply yourself, you're just newly anxious and therefore noticing something that may have been there all along. My advice now is to follow up with your new gynecologist and let her make the diagnosis of whatever they are. In the meantime, you must keep hands off. If you keep feeling for them or otherwise manipulate them, you could cause inflammation (and even enlargement) that would just increase your anxiety and also make accurate diagnosis more difficult. Total hands off until you see the doctor, then feel free to return here and let me know what she says.

Finally, in fhe off chance they really are warts, it't no big deal. Genital warts almost always are a minor inconvenience, not an important health threat. Don't overreact to such a minor problem.