I wish I hadn't gone

They say you should never miss your smear test and they’re probably right however after three reminders in less than a year I thought it was time I should.

I never expected it to come back HPV positive. Surely this means it was just as well I went so they can keep an eye on it. But there were no abnormal cells, everything is fine, right? And I should be able to carry on as normal, right?

I don’t feel like that, I have an STI and I can’t speak to anyone about it for fear of them judging me. I’ve told one person but I don’t think he fully understands how I feel. I know there is nothing I can do, but to have this hanging over me for the next 10+ months petrifies me. I keep running over the different scenarios for the results of my next test, it can take 2 years to clear, if it clears, and it’s already been a year since I last had sex so it should have cleared by then, but what if it doesn’t?

I’m at the point in my life when I want to meet someone and settled down, have children, but how can that happen with this hanging over me?

They say you can carry on having sex but even with protection it’s still transmittable so how can I? They say you don’t have to tell anyone but I couldn’t live with the guilt.

My point is, why did I need to be told I have something that 80% of people get at some point in their life? There were no abnormal cells so why do I need to know?

I wish I had never gone.

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Hello Alice1 .answering to one of your questions should you carry on as normal, definitely yes you have HPV not cancer or anything that is life changing, definitely you can date and try and find that person you want to settle down with don’t let HPV stop it. Doctors don’t treat HPV like other STI because it is not a normal STI simply because everyone gets it and great majority of people clear it without realising they had it.
Please read the jostrust information so you can fully understand how HPV works, don’t let anyone shame you for it because there is nothing to be embarrassed about.
Best thing you can do is have hpv vaccine if you don’t have it yet, take some vitamins to help inmune system clear the virus , don’t stress and enjoy your life probably the most important out of all of them.


I forgot to mention make sure you attend all your appointments the only reason that they test for HPV is to be able to make sure you are all good so don’t stop going for appointments and you will be fine.


Hi Alice1 and welcome

So sorry you are feeling so worried about your smear test result.

The fact that 80% of people get HPV at some point in their lives translates into many millions of people in the UK alone. If they all decided they shouldn’t carry on having sex and babies the world would quickly become a very strange place. You are clearly very shocked and upset about your result and it’s had a big impact on your outlook on life - to coin a phrase ‘you seem to be carrying the weight of the world on your shoulders’.

You really don’t need to tell anyone. However if you feel you must then take your time to get educated about HPV (see the information section on this website) which will help you realise you have nothing to feel guilty about and empower you educate and inform whoever you want to tell - ideally we should all be educated about HPV so we know how best to look after our health.

To give some perspective: thanks partly to the cervical screening programme, cervical cancer in the UK is actually a rare disease. Out of the 20+ million women in the UK only about 3200 p.a. develop invasive cervical cancer which requires life changing treatment. The HPV primary screening programme is fairly new and should mean that the incidence of cervical cancer should be even less which is a great thing.

The reason it’s good to know your HPV status is because it means you do have a risk (very small) for cervical cancer and it enables the NHS to prioritise you for close monitoring - with your result this means another smear test in a year’s time rather than 3 years time which is how long you would have been waiting with the old system before primary HPV screening. Knowledge is power and better than ignorant bliss, in the long run

I really am sorry for the anxiety you are feeling but once you’ve got over the shock and understand more about HPV you will see it really is worthwhile keeping up to date with smear tests. It’s the regret of my life that I didn’t keep up to date with mine and give myself the best opportunity to prevent cervical cancer- see my back story.



Hi Alice,

I have just received the same results and feel the exact same. I used the live in Northern Ireland and there they don’t screen for HPV just abnormal cells and all my smears came back fine. I’ve just had my first smear in England and it’s flagged High risk HPV but luckily normal cells.

I feel like I have done something wrong and like you I wish they hadn’t told me. I do understand that they just want to keep an eye on me but the idea of knowing I’m at risk and now having to wait 12months is unbearable. Maybe the way they deliver the messaging needs to change but I feel like this has been dumped on me without any support or advice.

Not sure if this helps just wanted to share that I understand how you feel. Hope you are doing ok and hopefully we will both come to feel better about things over time.



I know it’s been a while and people say there’s nothing to be concerned about but 4/5 months down the line and nothing’s changed. I’ve tried dating but I chicken out, I’m scared of getting intimate, what if cause someone to get cancer? And thinking I might want children (I’m not getting any younger) but you can pass it to your baby during the birth. I could never forgive myself.

Usually I’ll be fine and put it to the back of my mind but these last couple of days have been tough and I think about it more. I try reading up on it on here and the NHS website etc to try and reassure myself but it doesn’t help, if anything it scares me even more.

Hi Alice1

I’m so sorry you’re still feeling this way.

The thing about cervical cancer (and other HPV associated cancers) is not so much about being infected with HPV but more to do with immunity. As a Jo’s volunteer once explained to me; it seems that for a very small minority of people (including me) their immune system can’t deal with HPV and therefore they are susceptible to developing cancer. It’s very unfortunate for those people but it’s absolutely not something you need to feel responsible or guilty for.

Maybe it would help if you talked with someone to help you get perspective on the situation? One option would be to call the Jo’s helpine.


I agree with Jazza - sometimes talking it through with someone is really helpful. Not just because they know more on the helpline - I find saying things out loud to someone you know won’t judge or worry can be really therapeutic.

As people are so likely to have it (as you say 80% get it) it’s not unlikely that a future partner would already have it. This definitely doesn’t need to put your life on hold. You haven’t done anything wrong. I don’t know why the policy is to tell people they have something they can’t do anything about - I suppose it would just be immoral to withhold information. I’m so sorry you’re struggling with the diagnosis x