Introduction: Genital warts (GW) is one of the most prevalent venereal diseases in Northern Europe today. Previous research has shown that while present, GW can significantly reduce patients' quality of life (QoL). This follow-up study is the first of its kind to explore the possible physical and psycho-sexual long-term effects of having previously had GW.
Material and methods: A qualitative research design was applied using individual interviews with six former GW patients who had been cleared for GW for at least one year. The semi-structured interview guide included questions and issues that were identified in two previous studies of the QoL of heterosexual and homosexual GW patients. The data were analysed using a discourse theoretical approach.
Results: This study shows that GW may have QoL effects for a long time after clearance. The participants were persistently worried about GW recurrence, about being prone to develop ano-genital cancers and about the continual, negative effects on their sex and love lives. The women in particular suffered from permanent damage to their genital mucosa due to GW laser treatment.
Conclusion: The results of this study underline the need to disseminate knowledge about GW in order to optimize the use of preventive measures such as condoms and quadrivalent human papilloma virus vaccination. Patients with GW have a considerable need for detailed information about the disease and for being involved in the choice of their treatment. Finally, persisting worries about GW recurrence and ano-genital cancers should be addressed when communicating with former GW patients.