Genital warts can normally be detected by the naked eye or, if they are small, with a magnifying glass. Women who have warts in their vagina may require an examination with a speculum (similar to a smear test). Men or woman who have warts in their anus may require an examination using a small plastic tube called a proctoscope. However, as warts don't appear for weeks or even months after being infected, it is important to test for HPV, which is the virus that causes genital warts. This test is only available for women and involves inserting a speculum into the vagina, which scrapes cells from the cervix that are then analysed. The test is important as it can also detect women who are at risk of cervical cancer.
If you have visible warts or you do test positive for the HPV strains the cause warts, you should abstain from any type of sexual contact until you have received treatment. You should also inform your present partner and any recent partners so they can get tested.
You can be tested for genital warts with a simple swab. To do this, we recommend you choose a place and a method that is the most comfortable for you.
A genital warts test can be done at:
- Your own home with a self-collecting test
- A sexual health clinic
- A genitourinary medicine (GUM) clinic
- Your GP
- A contraception and young people's clinic
If you would prefer to be tested for genital warts in the privacy of your own home, you can order an easy-to-use self-collection test kit from our online sexual health shop. The test is simple, inexpensive and painless (although for women it may require a vaginal swab, which may be briefly uncomfortable) and requires a swab in the genital area. The kit contains easy-to-follow instructions and everything can be done discreetly at a time and place convenient to you. You'll know your results within 1-3 days of the laboratory receiving your sample.
A clean cotton swab is rubbed against visible warts or, if they are not visible, in an area of possible infection. In women this could be the inside of the vagina or the cervix (neck of the womb).
In 2016, 62,716 people tested positive for genital warts in England.
The self-collection HPV test is reliable and accurate and its results are comparable to usual clinical tests as it's tested in a laboratory. Only the first step - sampling - is done by you at home.
- You can do it on your own, in private, at a time convenient for you. There is no rush, which you might find at a clinic or GP surgery.
- Your sample is sent to the largest independent provider of clinical laboratory diagnostic services in the UK - The Doctor's Laboratory. Laboratory testing is the most accurate way of testing.
- It doesn't matter if you take a test at your home or at the clinic as both go to laboratories to be checked. The only difference is, if you order a self-collection kit you only have to wait 1-3 days to get the results whereas in a clinic, you may have to wait much longer.
Last updated April 22, 2018