Diagnosing genital warts 

If you think you may have genital warts, visit your local sexual health or genitourinary medicine (GUM) clinic.

Your GP will be able to diagnose genital warts and provide certain treatments, but the nurses and doctors at your local clinic will have access to a wider variety of treatments.

Staff at the clinic will have specialist training to help diagnose, treat and support you. There is no blood test to check for an active HPV infection.

Find your local sexual health or GUM clinic.

Who should go for a check-up?

You should have a check-up if you have obvious signs and symptoms of genital warts, or if a recent or current sexual partner develops genital warts or any other type of sexually transmitted infection (STI).

You may also wish to have a check-up if:

  • you have recently had unprotected sex with a new partner
  • you or your partner have had unprotected sex with other partners
  • you have another STI
  • you are pregnant or planning a pregnancy

All check-ups in sexual health and GUM clinics are free and confidential.

Diagnosing genital warts

Genital warts can usually be easily diagnosed with a simple examination. At a check-up, the doctor or nurse will examine the warts. They may use a magnifying lens to do this.

You may also be advised to have other areas of your genital skin examined – for example, inside the vagina or around your anus.

Further testing

Depending on where your warts are, you may be advised to have a more detailed examination. If you are advised to have a vaginal examination, this will usually be performed with a small plastic or metal tube called a vaginal speculum.

This will allow the doctor or nurse to see inside the vagina. It is a simple examination and is not usually painful.

If you are advised to have an examination of the inside of your anus, this will usually be performed using a small plastic tube called a proctoscope. This will allow the doctor or nurse to see the skin inside the anus. It is not usually painful.

If you are experiencing problems with the flow of urine, you may be advised to have a special examination of the urethra (the tube that urine flows through). This is usually only performed by a specialist.

Page last reviewed: 22/08/2014

Next review due: 22/08/2016