So I thought I would type this up to help other who are in my situation. I have been looking through this forum for help and so thought it necessary to add to it and help others.
A few months ago at the age of 24, I went to my first ever smear test. I was part of the first age group given the HPV vaccine and basically told never to worry about getting HPV or cervical cancer again. The reality was far from different.
My smear was rather uneventful. It wasn't painful in the slightest, a bit of pressure and it was over. The nurse was telling me how I need not worry having had the vaccine and how the NHS were considering stopping smear tests all together. Therefore I was beyond shocked when the letter came back saying I had borderline changes and was HPV positive. To begin with I was terrified and the shock was certainly a huge factor. I began researching everything, some on here, some from family who were scientists and others from Google Scholar.
What I found was that the HPV vaccine I was given protected against only 2 of around 24 high risk HPV strains. I felt that this was sold to me in a completely wrong way. There are disagreements on how long the vaccine covers an individual for and currently there is no HPV test or treatment for men. With 8/10 women currently suspected to get HPV in their lifetimes, I can only presume that our more sexually active generation may have a higher rate.
It seems that my results are far from uncommon and, once I had gotten over the shock, I began to realise that maybe knowing I had active HPV may be a blessing. If it is very likely that I would have got the virus anyway, I would rather know and have it monitored than find out at a later date that it had made changes whilst I was unaware of it. I have a condition which compromises my immune system and it seems that this is vital to fighting off the virus within a time span of 8-24 months. My original research showed Shiitake Mushroom capsules to be a potential aid in helping me fight off HPV sooner. My scientific family member did research and found that vitamin C and D would be much cheaper and have a more scientifically supported affect. I am by no means suggesting that this will help everyone rid themselves of HPV for sure, but I didn't see a downside to boosting my immune system and I felt as though I was actively doing something to help myself.
I received the letter for my colposcopy very quickly and was given an appointment within the week. My first assumption was that I had received a quick appointment because I was in a very bad position and they weren't telling me the seriousness of what was going on. The reality is that the hospital had an appointment free and offered it to me. My research had taught me not to worry. At least I knew what I had whilst I had it so it could be monitored and this site proved to me how many others were in my situation and ended up okay.
So on to the colposcopy...
First the doctor asked me into a consulting room to talk to me and give me information. She asked if I had any questions and I asked these:
Will my compromised immune system make it harder for me to fight off the HPV?
Answer: Yes it may take longer for you to rid yourself of the virus. But with a healthy lifestyle it should go away.
Will sex where my partner hits my cervix be damaging to my cells, causing borderline changes and therefore aggravating my issues?
Answer: No, that may cause other issues but it won't have a harmful effect on the borderline changes/HPV positive situation.
If my partner has the HPV virus as well as me, does that mean that we will keep passing it to each other?
Answer: No, like any other virus your body builds up a resistance against it. Once you have both fought it off you will be rid of that strain.
Some people online seem to know the strain of their HPV. Why don't I know mine?
Answer: Some laboratories that certain GP's use have equipment that can tell you what the individual strain is. My area doesn't have that but the HPV test only picks up 24 of the high-risk strains, so I know I have one of these 24.
The Doctor reassured me that she saw so many people in my situation and to see it as a precautionary measure. She then took me to a side room to take off my leggings and underwear before walking into another room where the colposcopy would happen. I am glad at this point that I wore a dress so that I wasn't walking from room to room with just a sheet wrapped around me. The chair looked like something out of Saw (I'm not going to lie!) but in reality it was actually very comfortable, even with my legs up in stirrups. The keep a blanket over you at all times, with the Doctor down there doing the business and another nurse stayed up my end with me. Although my partner came with me I found the nurse much more comforting. She talked to me all the way through, stroking my arm and making me as normal as I could in that situation.
The colposcopy itself felt exactly like the smear test. Not painful but a realisation that you would move away if you could. The doctor said she could see very very low grade changes and that she didn't feel worried at all. She said just to be safe (especially as I am yet to have children) she wanted to take a biopsy. She asked me if I wanted to have it done there and then and said yes without much thought to the procdure, I just wanted to know I am safe. I have read a lot of painful biopsy stories but mine was not like that at all. I would say that it felt exactly the same as the Smear test to me, perhaps a bit more pressure but I didn't find it painful. After taking the biopsy, the doctor put silver nitrate on the wound. Apparently this cauterizes it and stops the bleeding. This part did sting a fair bit, but it felt exactly the same as when certain anti-sceptic or alcohol rubs feel on a cut on your hand. It was a very annoying sting where it made it suck in air but you know it was helping.
The doctor said I was all done and I got down from the chair expecting to feel sharp pain but I didn't - I felt a bit sore but fine. I went back into the little side room to get ready, where, thankfully, they had spare pads to use. I had yet to bleed but was advised to wear one in preparation. Going back to the consultation room, the Doctor told me she wasn't worried at all and the over cautious biopsy would give me results within four weeks. She told me that the biopsy may result in period like cramps and cause spot bleeding. She advised me not to have a bath that night (and I'm being overly cautious and sticking to showers until the spot bleeding stops) and not to have sex until the bleeding ceases.
By the time I left, I could feel slight cramps coming on. They did end up feeling quite bad, a bit worse than my usual period pain, that's for sure. But a bag of minstrels, TV box sets and a comfy sofa combined with not moving and allowing my partner to wait on me for a while, caused no pain. The colposcopy was yesterday and now I am still getting cramping pain and a stingy feeling when I move in certain ways, but nothing which makes me think it was not worth it.
I am nervous about the results of the biopsy, how can I not be after the result of my smear? But I am combining my factual knowledge with the reassurances from my Doctor to not let it affect me. It is in the back of my mind, but I am sure that worrying about it will only cause me to do harm. When I know my results I'll worry then (or hopefully not) and have been told that at the very least I will need yearly smears until I show HPV negative.
I hope I have given a comprehensive account of my journey so far. It is still a short one and not over, but I want to give others an honest account.
Anything I have missed that you may want to know, please feel free to comment and ask. :)