A service provided by the BC Centre for Disease Control



Home / Answered Questions / How long will I have genital warts (HPV)?

How long will I have genital warts (HPV)?

Genital warts are caused by the human papillomavirus (HPV). It is one of the most common sexually transmitted infections (STIs). 

There are over 100 types of HPV. About 40 of them can affect the anus/rectum, genitals and less commonly, the mouth and throat. HPV is sexually transmitted through skin-to-skin contact. This includes sexual contact such as, genitals rubbing together, penetrative sex (vaginal/internal genital or anal/rectal intercourse), oral sex, sharing sex toys, and hands on genitals. HPV may still be present even if there are no visible warts or when the warts are gone. Wearing condoms can help to reduce, but not eliminate the chances of passing HPV from one partner to another.

For the majority of people, the virus will clear the body on its own without causing symptoms/warts or problems. 

For those who do get symptoms (genital warts), most of these will eventually go away with or without having them treated, often within 18-24 months. Once your genital warts are gone, this does not mean the HPV infection is gone or cured. Genital warts can come back and you can get HPV again from a partner who has it.

There are now vaccines that protect against the more common HPV types. The vaccine will not help you get rid of HPV if you already have it, but it can prevent future infections. To learn more about the HPV and other vaccines, click here.