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Sexually Transmitted Diseases/genital warts/skin tag/vestibular papilae?


"Hi, doc. I'm Ana. I hope you can answer these questions because I've been freaking out for weeks now.

Recently, I've been feeling slight pain down there, more like a sting and I found out many little soft pinkish skin-tag-like growths directly around the vaginal entrance.

There was one quite swollen, a little light in colour, almost white. I touched it and felt the pain. It's only painful at that one part. The others, if I don't pull them or touch them roughly, they don't hurt at all.

There was one time where I pulled it and it got red and swollen and painful, but few days later it turns black and after that,the tag either disappears or fall off.

I looked up in the internet and found out about vestibular papilae. It looks kind of like that. Can be pulled into a finger like projection or a small tear drop at the end. But I'm still not sure about and it's getting me depressed and I need an expert's opinion.

So, what is it? Genital warts or vestibular papilae? Skin tag? How can I get rid of it? If it's vestibular papilae, can it cause pain or get swollen or increase in number? Can it ever go away?

I wish I could give you a photo of it but my phone camera's not that good and I'm not really comfortable with showing my down there.

I hope you'll answer it because I really need to know and want to have a good night sleep without worrying. Thanks a lot doc.

P.S : I'm a virgin. Never had any sexual contact or involved in any sexual relationship."

Hello Ana,
The best way to determine everything is okay down there, is to have a women's health doctor examine you. In the absence of such access, you should be reassured that if you have NEVER had sexual contact with another person, than you would not have any diseases or conditions that require sexual contact beforehand!  Therefore, warts are NOT likely. Vestibular papillae, or squamous papillomatosis or skin tags are all variations of normal. Sometimes irritation can cause some of them to get swollen or itchy. The one you may have pulled, may have caused it's blood supply to be damaged, and as a result it may have come off. It is possible to have had an abscess, which is unrelated to having sex  (which you didn't yet have), but may cause pain, swelling, and discharge. If it persists or redevelops or worsens, than you should find a doctor to evaluate the problem.

Hope this helps. Good luck!

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Mark P. Behar


Almost any question or concern about gay men's health issues, sexually transmitted infections, abnormal Pap smears, anal cytology (anal "Pap smears"), etc. There is no such thing as “d/d free” or “clean” (free of infection), so why do so many of us deceive ourselves into thinking that some people are indeed totally free from a potentially infectious disease, like HIV, herpes, hepatitis, syphilis, chlamydia, warts, gonorrhea, etc., just because they say so? Clinical laboratory tests are not perfect, and having a “negative” or “nonreactive” test does not mean that a person is free from infection. Perhaps at the moment the test was taken, the person was uninfected; or, perhaps, the test wasn’t sensitive enough to detect presence of the infection. There is really no way that anyone can determine that they are truly “disease free,” and there are over a hundred of infectious conditions that can be spread without your knowing anything. Rather than trying to “pre-screen” or “serosort” a potential sex-mate with deceptive questions that are impossible to know by today’s technologies, a wiser option may be to consider everyone infected with something, and either use appropriate protective measures (“safer sex”), or accept the responsibility and consequences of possibly “catching” something from someone who’s hotter than expected (pun intended!). There is much research that supports the contention that an HIV positive person reliably taking HIV medications, and having an undetectable viral load, presents a lower risk for transmission of HIV than people who may think or say they are HIV negative, but are not. Food for thought!


Family Practice PA since 1981; Volunteer Clinician for Brady East STD (BESTD) Clinic, Milwaukee, since 1977; answered STD questions submitted to their web site. Professionally lectured at national and regional Physician Assistant and Nurse Practitioner conferences, and at national gay & lesbian health conferences on topics including HIV/AIDS, herpes, hepatitis, STDs, human papilloma virus (the cause of venereal warts), abnormal Pap smears, gay and lesbian health issues, among others.

Co-Founder, Lesbian, Bisexual, & Gay Physician Assistant Caucus of the American Academy of Physician Assistants, Inc.; American Academy of Physician Assistants; Wisconsin Academy of Physician Assistants; National Co-Chair (2012-16), National Association of Black and White Men Together: A Gay, Multiracial Organization for All People (NABWMT)

Journal of the American Academy of Physician Assistants (JAPA) Q Visions, Quarterly Newsletter of the NABWMT

Bachelor's of Arts, 1972 (University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee, WI) Graduate Credits Experimental Psychology, 1972-75 (Tulane University, New Orleans, LA) Physician Assistant, Bachelor's of Science, 1981 (George Washington University, Washington, DC); Masters in Physician Assistant Studies, 2000 (University of Nebraska Medical Center, Omaha, NE)

Awards and Honors
Colposcopy Recognition Award (CRA), the American Association of Colposcopy and Cervical Pathology; Distinguished Fellow, Clinical Preceptor, American Academy of Physician Assistants; Fellow, Wisconsin Academy of Physician Assistants

Past/Present Clients
Brady East STD Clinic, Milwaukee, WI Milwaukee Health Services, Inc. (Martin Luther King Heritage Health Center), Dept. of Family Medicine and Early Intervention Program for HIV Infected Persons

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