As the title says, I have HPV. I was diagnosed in March and had surgery to remove pre cancerous cells. I asked husband at the time was there anything I need to know and he said ‘no!’. It’s been niggling me though. We’ve been together 10 years and I’ve had several smears in that time and never had HPV picked up until this year. Is it possible it’s laid dormant all this time? Thanks
My husband was worried that he had given it to me so I asked the hospital. They explained that it behaves like the cold sore virus which can lay dormant for months or years with no actual cold sores and then one day can randomly appear. We have been together for 4 years and all of my smears have been clear until last month.
Explaining it in this way did ease his concerns.
I am sure that the lovely ladies on here will be able to offer more words of wisdom.
Totally possible you’ve had it all this time. Most people get it at some point and it can lie dormant for years and then flare up. You might have gotten it from your husband when you first got together and only now it has actually manifested, or you might have had it before then. It is not at all an indicator of infidelity.
I know how you feel as I was totally shocked to get a positive HPV result at 41. I have been with my husband over 20 years and he is my only sexual partner. I don’t believe he’s cheated so I was extremely worried at the prospect of having HPV unknowingly for 20 years. When I spoke to the doctor he didn’t seem phased and said it’s entirely possible that I’ve had it all this time. Some women clear it and for others it can lay dormant for for many years and then flare up again. I think stress in particular can be a factor in having a flare up, hormonal changes too and just getting older. I think most people have been stressed living through a pandemic over the last 18 months. I lost my dad just 6 weeks before the first lockdown, it was devastating so I do suspect this been my trigger. Also in the U.K. they have only just started testing for HPV, as part of the routine smear, in the last year or two, so the fact it’s not been mentioned in previous smears doesn’t mean you didn’t have it, it’s just you weren’t tested.
I also have only been with my husband, met at 19 years old and are now 32. I’ve had clear smears up until this most recent one they showed HPV and cell changes. My gyno advised same as the previous ladies have that it can lay dormant for many many years and then just decide to flare up.
Everyone here is correct when they say that HPV can lay dormant for years, then something will happen in the body to set it off.
Also, I might be wrong here, but the cervical smear screening hasn’t always looked for HPV anyhow? I thought that was a more recent thing?
Someone please correct me if I’m wrong.
I hope that we can put your mind at ease.
You are correct that cervical screening hasn’t always looked for HPV. So called primary HPV scrrening was only rolled out across England in December 2019: https://phescreening.blog.gov.uk/2020/01/23/significant-landmark-as-primary-hpv-screening-is-offered-across-england/
It seems to me the worst thing about getting an HPV positive result is the amount of anxiety it causes. I take the view that HPV screening is a great technological advance which should result in significantly fewer cases of cervical cancer by enabling closer monitoring and earlier treatment compared to when screening was just cytology (cell) based.
I wish I’d had the benefit of HPV screening then I might not have got complacent and stopped going for smear tests - with very unfortunate consequences - see my back story.
Wow, you’ve really been through it, haven’t you? How are you feeling now in 2021?
A lot of women put off going for their cervical screening. I’m one of those too.
I first had a smear about 20 years ago. I was 18 & wasn’t getting periods. I was was seen by a gyno, but she couldn’t see anything wrong.
The years rolled by & I ignored every invite for screening, mainly because of health anxieties. Ignorance meant bliss for me.
Last year, I had to register with a new GP. I was checked out by a nurse as part of the registration, & I felt pressured by her to have my first smear in 19 years. I was terrified, but I knew it was the right thing to do.
I’d convinced myself that something was wrong because I was getting weird bleeding. It was unlike me to have any vaginal bleeding at all - I rarely had periods. This was put down to me being overweight.
Anyway, to cut a long story short, the results came back HPV positive. I was scared when I read the letter. I didn’t know what any of it meant really. I was lucky enough not to have abnormal cells though.
A year on, & I am now HPV negative. Considering I’ve been so foolish, putting off smear tests for 19 years, I feel very lucky that there’s nothing sinister going on. I urge anyone with a cervix to go to their screening invites.
How did you cope with everything that you’ve been through? I would have gone to pieces.
This site is brilliant for worried & anxious people like me. It’s good to know that we are not alone x
I was pretty good at going for smears before I was 50y. I’d always had normal smear results and that, plus I hadn’t had any new sexual partners for over 20 years, lead to me thinking it was safe to stop getting screened. Also I was getting towards menopause and smears had started to get painful; it’s only since my cc diagnosis learnt that topical oestrogen cream can help make smears more comfortable for menopausal women.
I think the nurse that pressured you to have a smear is a star. On a couple of occasions my GPs mentioned I wasn’t up to date with smears and I said I found them difficult or that I didn’t think I needed them any more. and nothing more was said. It saddens me that the GPs didn’t push me e.g. I wish they’d taken a minute to ask if I had any concerns; I went away feeling they’d condoned my decision not to have smears. I think a lot of GP practice nurses are pretty good at getting their patients to have smear tests but I never saw one throughout my entire 50s when I was behind with my tests.
How am I feeling in 2021? Well I’m still here which might not have been the case. But I’ve not been too lucky in terms of the side effects of my treatment. My bladder is very unreliable because my hysterectomy cause a lot of nerve damage and I have to use catheters to help empty my bladder - this is an unusual outcome and I’ve been very unlucky in that sense. Also because my treatment did a lot of damage to my lymphatic system I’ve got lymphoedema (swelling) in one leg/foot and have to wear a thick compression stocking plus a sort of foot glove all day, every day, to keep the swelling down - again I’ve been unlucky because not everyone gets lymphoedema. I’m still in follow up care; my oncologists recently said that they are cautiously optimistic that I’m cancer free but that isn’t something I dwell on - I’ve got enough to do managing my side effects. Sometimes I think I should be careful what I say so as not to upset people but that might give the impression that cervical cancer treatment is no big deal (I think I might have thought that at one time) and I don’t want to give anyone a reason for thinking it’s OK to dodge a smear test - why risk it?
How did I cope with what I’ve been through? Well initially I did fall to pieces but one gets through it because there isn’t really a choice; like anything we learn to adapt - but I would dearly have liked not to have gone down this road.
As we are both now so aware a lot of women avoid smear tests. Since my cc diagnosis I’ve done a lot of awareness raising about the importance of smear tets and and I bring up the subject whenever an opportunity arises. I’m partly driven because I wish someone had struck up a conversation with me on the subject; also I’ve been surprised how rewarding it’s been - lots of approval and best of all when someone gets back on track with their screening.
Finally I would mention that I’ve met a few women who, having had a scare but then revert to having normal smear results, have since become complacent maybe because they assume it can’t happen again. So please don’t be one of those - be sure to carry on taking up ALL your screening invitations. Also if you get any gynae symptoms that aren’t normal for you don’t delay getting a GP appointment - I had cc symptoms for 3-4 months before seeing a GP!
I’m really sorry to hear of the complications you’ve had as a result of treatment. That is awfully bad luck.
Thanks for your openness & frank post though. What you have said has come from experience, & if you can help just one woman with that, that is excellent.
I’m never ignoring a smear test ever again. I don’t even like the thought of having to wait 3 years for another one, although as you pointed out, if anyone should get symptoms, they should never hesitate to get it looked at.
It looks like you take each day as it comes, which is the best way really.
Thanks for your story & all the best. I too will be raising awareness of CC!