The majority of warts do not require a biopsy, but a biopsy may be taken if genital warts cannot be easily identified with a physical exam or during a gynecology exam with a lighted magnifying instrument (colposcopy). A biopsy can also rule out associated cancer.
Why is a biopsy performed?
You may have a biopsy if any of the following are true:
- Your doctor is not sure what type of abnormal tissue is present.
- Warts have not responded to treatment.
- Warts appear unusual. (These warts may harbor cancer.)
What should I know before a biopsy of genital warts?
Treatment for genital warts includes watchful waiting without treatment, medical treatment, or removal of the abnormal tissue.
The decision to do a biopsy will be based on whether biopsy results are likely to affect treatment.
If a biopsy confirms male genital, vaginal, or perianal warts, medical treatment is an option.
Avoid sexual intercourse until the biopsy area is healed.
How do I prepare for a biopsy of genital warts?
The biopsy can be done in your doctor’s office or clinic. During this procedure, you may receive an injection of a numbing medicine (local anesthetic).
What happens during the biopsy?
A small sample of tissue (biopsy) may be taken from the genital warts. Then the sample is examined under a microscope. Biopsies of the outer genital area on both men and women are more likely. This includes the vulva, scrotum, or penis.
While the injection that delivers the anesthetic can be painful, the biopsy is otherwise painless. Local anesthetic is used when the procedure is likely to be more painful than the injection, but the patient will not feel it thanks to the anesthetic.
What happens after?
Women who have a biopsy may feel some soreness in the vagina for a day or two. Some vaginal bleeding or discharge is normal for up to a week after a biopsy. In case this occurs, you can use a sanitary pad for the bleeding. Do not douche, have sex, or use menstrual cups or tampons for one week, to allow time for your cervix to heal.