HPV Positive and borderline changes not sexually active

Hi all,
I have spent most of my afternoon trying to look at other forums for women in similar situation to me but struggled.
I had a smear 3 years ago which came back normal. When I got my second one through I spoke with a nurse as to whether it was necessary as I have only ever had one sexual encounter nearly 10 years ago (sorry TMI and might sound lame), but was advised to go anyway…

Due to the above I also find smear tests extremely painful. I cried the whole way through my smear test due to the pain.
My results have come back HPV positive and borderline changes, which I was not expecting. As most other women have experienced I’m terrified.

But I’m also confused and devastated that I have been told I’m HPV positive when I’m not sexually active and have not been for such a long time, wouldn’t this have shown on my last smear if so? I also had the vaccine when I was a teenager. The thought of going through another examination makes me extremely tearful because of how much pain I was in during the smear, the thought of that going on for 15-20 minutes sounds awful.

I’ve tried googling (bad idea) and everything I’ve come across is related to HPV and sexually active, having sexual partners etc. I have not had this experience. I’m also an extremely anxious person so the thought of waiting, I’m really struggling to put this to the back of my mind to be able to enjoy my holiday next week! I’ve also just started a new job 2 weeks in and worried about having to ask for time off.

If anyone has any experience of the above, a colposcopy or any suggestions on how to feel calmer about the colposcopy/been prescribed anything (I’m considering going to my GP to see if they can prescribe something for the pain) I’d be most grateful.

Just a 28 year old anxious girl trying to get through! Thanks in advance.




I'm not in a similar situation to you, but maybe I can help a bit given my experience (see my back story) and what I've learnt since.

It's very likely that your sample, 3 years ago, was only checked for cell abnormalities and since your cells were normal the sample would not have been tested for HPV.  The way cervical screening samples are tested has changed recently; it's called HPV primary screening. This means that samples are first tested for the presence of HPV; if a sample is HPV negative no further tests are carried out, only if a sample is HPV positive is it then checked for cell abnormalities.

It's good that the nurse advised you to get your smear done, despite your last sexual encounter being 10 years ago.  Statistics indicate that having multiple sexual partners means you are more likely to get cervical cancer, what is less commonly mentioned is having a partner who has had multiple sexual partners also increases your chances of getting cervical cancer.  But that is only statistics and frankly they can be very misleading when it comes to thinking about one's own risk. 

4 out of 5 women will get HPV at some time in their lives, then it's down to whether one's immune system is able to deal with the virus.  In those women whose immune system doesn't manage to deal with HPV, the virus stays in the body although it may lie dormant for many years - even decades.  When the virus is dormant it won't cause cell changes and will probably not be detected by testing.  If the immune system becomes weakened in some way, e.g. due to stress, smoking, ?genetics etc, the virus can reactivate to cause cell abnormalities and will also be detectable through testing.

I think that HPV vaccination is a good thing, but there are several strains of HPV associated with cervical cancer and the vaccines don't protect against all of them. Hence it's very important that women, even if vaccinated, attend for smear tests.

I can totally empathise with finding the smear test difficult; I just bottled out and convinced myself that 'it wouldn't happen to me', which I now regret immensely, so well done for getting your smear. I can't say much about colposcopy because my problem was found when I had an attempted hysteroscopy done under GA. You could take a couple of paracetamol before your appointment, but if you feel you'd like something stronger then yes, see your GP. I think we need to be proactive about seeking support for smears and colposcopies; for some women these procedures are very difficult, physically and/or psychologically, and it would be good if the NHS did more to recognise and help women who struggle with gynaecological investigations.

All the best