Are all abnormal cells caused by HPV

I'm trying to get my head round this. In 2012 I had a smear which came back minor cell changes and at that time there was no HPV testing. I was asked to return in 6 months and when I did all was ok and the next two were fine also. I did do a private self test for HPV at home which came back negative. 

my question is if I had cell changes does that mean I must have had HPV then? 

My only sexual partner for 20 years was my ex husband who was a Virgin when we met and I wasn't aware he was cheating but I think he must have been. 


Hi MMorris, 

I'm not sure if ALL abnormal cells are caused by HPV, but I am pretty sure that is the case because they now do HPV screening first and only test for abnormal cells if you are positive. 

Having HPV in the past absolutely does not mean that your ex had cheated though. HPV is sexually transmitted (any sexual contact - not just penetrative sex) however 80% of people will have it at some point, and can clear it on their own. 

He did cheat a few years after that but it's got me wondering if he did it before 

I actually had this discussion with my consultant last week. I had some very minor cell changes years ago, then in about 2015 I got mild dyskaryosis which progressed and eventually needed treating. I asked if the HPV infection I had treated had also caused the mild cell changes I had years ago. Her response was that very mild changes can happen which are not a result of hpv however they wouldn't be worried about this as it's the presence of the HPV virus which is the major concern as it's a prolonged infection with HPV which leads to the vast majority of cervical cancers. So in answer to your question, I do believe you can have mild cell changes without HPV.


I believe it's very possible to carry HPV for more then 20 years before it maybe starts to cause cell changes, so maybe your HPV infection pre-dated your ex husband.  Also it's possible to be technically a virgin and still be infected with HPV as just skin on skin genital contact can result in transmission of the virus and I think heavy petting and sharing of sex toys may also result in infection.

I stopped going for smear tests age 50y partly because I'd always had normal test results (based on cytology only) and hadn't had any new sexual partners for 22 years.  Sadly I got diagnosed with stage 2 cervical cancer age 60y - see my back story.