How long can HPV lie dormant for?

I have just came back from my holiday to find I have high risk HPV no cell change. This came like a bolt out of the blue. Always had negative smears and been with my husband for 20 years. I am in perimenopause and on HRT. My emotions are all over the place and worries sick. I am now doubting my marriage and it’s a horrible feeling. Can anyone give me some advice on how to handle this because I feel I am going to go stir crazy with worry. Thanks :blush:

Hi please don’t worry or doubt your marriage. I’m 35 and I’ve been with my husband 15 years and only got hpv positive abnormal cell change result last year from my smear. I know I haven’t been unfaithful or my husband! it’s wildly reported that it can lie dormant for a very long time only to come out in stressful or when your immune system is down situations. I believe not entirely sure so someone may correct me, that before 2019 they only tested for abnormal cells at smears but now their testing for hpv first and then the abnormal cells if you are positive (someone please correct me if I’m wrong) Have a little read up on other reputable sites and on here. Xx

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Thank you for your reply. I think we see these letters saying “high risk” related to cervical cancer etc and we automatically go into panic mode. Then you question…well how have I got it when I’ve been married for 20 years and no issues before now. I totally understand the need for the testing now but us women must be all over the place getting these kind of results now :woozy_face:

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I am 45 and have high risk HPV (positive result in 2021), I also had cells removed back when I was 22 - they didn’t test for HPV then, only abnornal cells but I presume I must have had it then. Apparently it can be re-triggered during times of stress and also hormonal change so perimenopause (me!) and post menopausal. Don’t doubt your partnership just focus on getting through this together :heartpulse:


Yes it’s a lot! When I got the results last year I went to a bad place (my mum died within 6 months of finding out she had ovarian cancer and my grandma had endometrial cancer) so it certainly does make you think of the worst I planned days out with my kids thinking they’d be my last before my colposcopy. Sounds daft now but it’s awful. I prefer to be clued up so have looked into everything obsessively since I’ve been awaiting lletz biopsy results this year and feel much better for knowing that they are very early signs not cc and that the nhs is monitoring it. I’ve hopefully fingers crossed (awaiting mdt meeting) been given good biopsy results so will just need follow up smears. I’m now on supplement/healthy mode to boost my immune system to see if I can get it cleared. Make sure you plan a lovely night out or in with your husband xx

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Thank you KatieT

Thanks Hanandlee

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I am now in healthy mode too. Ironically I’ve never felt better. Gym, no alcohol, so many supplements I rattle!


Haha I’ve made a list of supplements and I said the same we will rattle! but fingers crossed it’s worth it for the next smear good luck to you too x

Hi @Jax77

I dont think theres an actual number on it as its hard to say when someone first contracted it, but they do believe we will be exposed within the first years of sexual activity and everybody who is/was sexually active will have aquired atleast one strain of it by the age of 40-45

As there is an uptick of HPV positives in menopausal woman aged 50+ (who havnt tested positive before or shown signs of a HPV infection - abnormal pap) and most of them have been in decade long monagamous marriages (the number of infections in this group is too large to say theyre newly aquired infections from divorcees and possible unfaithfulness), these are believed to be reactivations rather than new infections

Given that most school children are sexually active by the age of 16 (sometimes sooner), everybody will have it by the age of 40-45… leaves an estimated/possible dormancy period of 5-39+ years xx

I was 63 married for 40 years when I was diagnosed with Cervical Cancer my mum was in her 80s when she contracted 2 different gynaecological cancers.