They are caused by a family of viruses, cousins of the skin warts viruses. They are called “human papillomavirus” (HPV) and are transmitted by contact with the skin and especially sexually during first intercourse (40% of women under 20 are carriers of the viruses and 80% of women have been in contact with these viruses during their lifetime).
Viruses only settle in the skin of the intimate area, vagina and cervix and do NOT go inside the body . Usually, our natural defenses (immunity) allow us to eliminate these viruses. Passage of viruses to the baby during pregnancy is rare.
Viruses can infect all of the skin in this area and remain “asleep” for many years. The condom is effective against sexual diseases transmitted by semen (HIV, hepatitis B and C, etc.) but partially protects against these viruses or against transmission linked to lesions outside the vagina, cervix and penis (for example : vulvae). The male partner is a carrier but rarely suffers from dysplasia.
These lesions are significantly favored by smoking or second-hand smoke.