Contact your healthcare provider or local health department if you are at risk for coronavirus (COVID-19). To help reduce the spread of COVID-19, please avoid the emergency department except in the event of an emergency. | Learn More
View All Services
Find a New Primary Care Provider
Search by Specialty
View All Locations
Discover classes, events, tours, and groups that fit your interests.
Home > Be Healthy > Health Library > Biopsy of Genital Warts (Human Papillomavirus)
Your doctor may take a sample, or biopsy, of abnormal tissue. 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 microscopic exam on the biopsied tissue can help your doctor find out whether human papillomavirus (HPV) is present.
The biopsy can be done in your doctor's office or clinic. You may have an injection of a numbing medicine (local anesthetic). This is more likely to be used for biopsies of the outer genital area on both men and women: this includes the vulva, scrotum, or penis. The injection can be painful. But local anesthetic is needed when the biopsy is likely to be more painful than the injection.
There usually are no complications after a biopsy.
You may have a biopsy if any of the following are true:
Findings of a biopsy may include the following:
No abnormal cells are found, which usually means that an HPV is not present.
Abnormal cells called koilocytes are found. Koilocytes are cells that appear hollow or concave when examined under a microscope. Koilocyte cells collected from the genital or anal areas are abnormal and indicate infection with the human papillomavirus (HPV).
Other types of skin lesions also may be found.
Abnormal cervical cell changes caused by HPV will be treated differently from how genital warts are treated.
Treatment for abnormal cells 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.
Sexual intercourse should be avoided until the biopsy area is healed.
Current as of: July 7, 2019
Author: Healthwise StaffMedical Review: Sarah A. Marshall, MD - Family MedicineAdam Husney, MD - Family MedicineKevin C. Kiley, MD - Obstetrics and Gynecology
Current as of: July 7, 2019
Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review:Sarah A. Marshall, MD - Family Medicine & Adam Husney, MD - Family Medicine & Kevin C. Kiley, MD - Obstetrics and Gynecology
To learn more about Healthwise, visit Healthwise.org.
© 1995-2020 Healthwise, Incorporated. Healthwise, Healthwise for every health decision, and the Healthwise logo are trademarks of Healthwise, Incorporated.