HPV confusion!!!

Hi Ladies

I wonder if anyone could shed some light onto the HPV virus. Ive read through so many articles concerning HPV and still what it essentially is seems to remain a mystery.

I have been recently diagnosed with high risk HPV and have a colposcopy appointment due on the 23rd of Oct

I have a few questions:

1) Have i always had this virus?

2) Does it go away or just lie dormant - my nurse told me now Im diagnosed with it I'll always have it

3) The number of men Ive been with I can count on one hand so do I need to inform them that I have this?

4) I am in a very new relationship - we're only at the holding hands stage lol - do I need to tell him Im infected?

5) Without being crude my ex went ballistic when he found out I have HPV and now says I could give him cancer - Ive read that HPV is linked to mouth and penile cancer - what do I say??

Finally does anyone else feel filthy for having this HPV? Ive been separated for a year now from a 25 year marriage and had one sexual partner since - does that mean it was him that gave it to me?

I hope this doesnt all sound like niave ramblings, and I do consider myself reasonably intelligent, I just dont understand what this HPV thing is completely and I guess worry is also clouding my judgement.

Any help would be appreciated

Hi there

Firstly, let me assure you that you are not alone in your confusion! Even medical professionals appear to be foxed by it. When I asked my consultant about the steps I could take to rid my body of the virus, she looked vague and said ‘well, we’re hoping that the LLETZ treatment will shock it away’. Er, what? Is that the official medical term?? It’s not a spider that I’m trying to get rid of here?!

I was also told that I should maintain a healthy lifestyle. Well, I’m healthier than I’ve ever been, doing lots of exercise, eating more fruit and veg, not drinking much…but at my last smear, it was revealed that I’m still HPV positive!

From my (limited) understanding, I can tell you the following:

The nurse who told you that it’s here to stay is wrong. Your body can get rid of it. Apparently the majority (like, 9 out of 10 people) of us contract HPV at least one time during our lives. But with the lucky ones, it doesn’t stick around. With some people though, it can stay. I read somewhere that it can take as much as two years to go, which is not great! It can come back too – I think (bit unclear here) that your body can develop an immunity to some types but there are quite a few strains so you might be unlucky and have it come back.

Very importantly, the amount of sexual partners you’ve had is irrelevant. Read experiences on here and you’ll see it affects women who have only ever slept with one person, women who have been celibate for years and women who are in long term relationships with the same partner. I think it doesn’t have to be passed on via sex – apparently close contact is enough.

I tortured myself thinking about it and going through every ‘encounter’ I’ve had in the past few years. My last clear smear was in 2009 – but hey, maybe I contracted HPV before then and it could have been lying dormant! I’ve also been worried that I got it off my current partner or that I’ve give it to him. However, from what I can understand just because you get HPV, it doesn’t necessarily follow that it will affect you in anyway – and this is true for the vast majority. And you shouldn’t feel dirty, just unlucky! You could only sleep with one person just the once and still get HPV. But then that’s the same for every STD, I suppose.

All I can say is, nobody has a clear explanation. I really want someone to say to me ‘do this and it will go away’ but that’s not possible. I’m just trying not to let it stress me out and am getting on with my life. I’ll keep on being healthy and hopefully the HPV will just bugger off on its own. Fingers crossed!

I hope that helps in some small way! There will be ladies on this site who know more than me – and check out the HPV section if you haven’t done so already, it’s helpful.

 

xx

Hi Lily, I totally understand your confusion too.

When I first looked into getting an abnormal smear and this HPV "sexually transmitted infection" kept popping up, I felt absolutely disgusted that this could have been passed on by a past partner. I've looked into it quite a lot and to repeat what Charlotte says above, HPV is so common that almost everyone gets it at some stage in their lives.

Its apparently not something you need to tell past partners about, I guess because its so common and mostly just goes away on its own.

I would imagine your nurse meant that you will always be high risk of contracting HPV, rather than that you will always have HPV. I think some people are just more prone to it than others and that's where the risk factor comes in.

I very understand how you must be feeling about your new partner. I don't think its something you need to tell him, but I guess that's a personal choice. I find it hard to be intimate with my boyfriend since I found out I had "abnormalities", it just feel a bit weird. Your ex needs to do a little more reserach if he thinks you're going to be the cause of him getting penile or mouth cancer. Firstly, the chances are extremely low of HPV causing those, and secondly, as we mentioned above, most people get HPV at some stage in their lives whether they have one partner or 50, so there is no way that you are to blame. Its just life.

I wish they would class it as something else rather than a sexually transmitted infectio, it might make it a little easier for us to deal with, and not as taboo.

Thanks for your replies - I did laugh at your "shock it away" comment Charlotte79! It does seem confusing. Ive calmed down sufficiently enough to read through the fact sheets here on HPV and am a little clearer. It would seem that by testing for HPV (which ive no doubt is a good thing) and labelling it as an STD is a little offputting to say the least - even if that is what it is! Its the taboo it carries and the possible sigma - the fact that it is so common will probabaly be lost on most people; the very same people who have probably had it themselves but ddid not know. Thank you for you replies. Best wishes xLx


21.05.13 routine smear showed insufficient cells
05.09.13 repeat smear shows abnormalities and high risk HPV + candida infection
23.10.13 scheduled colposcopy exam