Dear Dr. Kate, Can Hand Warts Be Transmitted to Genitals?

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Dr. Kate is an OB/GYN at one of the largest teaching hospitals in New York City and she answers your medical questions every few weeks on EMandLO.com. To ask her your own question, click here.

Dear Dr. Kate,

My boyfriend has 2 warts on his fingers. We have been trying to treat them to go away but in the meantime, is it possible to transmit these warts to my vagina? I have looked this up on various websites but can’t find a definite answer. One them has been there for almost 10 years (keeps regrowing) if that helps to clarify what type of HPV.

— Mrs. Toad

Dear Mrs. T.,

There are nearly 200 HPV virus types, and about 40 of them can infect the genitals. HPV viral strains tend to have a favorite vacation spot on your body, and don’t tend to travel outside of that area. Of course, there are exceptions; some high-risk genital wart strains can infect the mouth and throat during oral sex. But HPV 6 and 11, the two strains that together cause 90% of genital warts, don’t cause warts on other areas of the body. The reverse is also true; HPV on the fingers — most often from HPV 1 or 2 — is not likely to cause warts on his or your genitals. But to be even safer, cover up his warts with a Band-aid, finger cot or glove before he touches you.

— Dr. Kate

Dr. Kate is an OB/GYN at one of the largest teaching hospitals in New York City. She also lectures nationally on women’s health issues and conducts research on reproductive health. She generously shares her medical wisdom with EM & LO readers every few weeks. Check out more of her advice and ask her a question at Gynotalk.com.