Positive for HPV but no follow up for 1yr?

Hi everyone,

I am new here. I am 31, I recently had a smear (not my first) and tested positive for HPV. Admittedly I go to my smears a bit mindlessly and have never really worried about what they are actually looking for. I have been married 4 yrs and in this relationship for 10yrs faithfully, as has my husband (and I am very confident about that) so I wasn't really expecting to find what I found when I read up about HPV. 

Firstly, I am scared that there has been this change but there will be no follow up for a year. My periods can be erratic anyway because of PCOS and some minor endometriosis, so I can often be unsure about what is normal for me. Is it really the only option to wait a year to find out more? I suffer with anxiety so I dont really fancy waiting a year with this on my mind. 

Secondly, I feel almost unclean? I worried when I read about HPV is transmitted that my husband my jump to conclusions about me having this virus. Will he also have the virus? Can we keep reinfecting each other? We normally use condoms as our contraception anyway as I dont use hormonal contraceptives but am I right in thinking that this virus may not be fully prevented by condoms?

Thirdly, will I have genital warts that I don't know about? Internally? About 6 months ago I developed a bump type thing inside my thigh and I had it checked out and the GP said it wasnt appearing sinister but now I am wondering if they are related.

Finally, I have arranged for a telephone appointment with the nurse that did the smear on Tuesday (earliest I could get). Are there any questions that I should be asking in particular? Any advice would be appreciated.

Sorry to have so many questions but it is playing on my mind! Thanks for reading this far.

Hello Hookaduck

Sorry to hear about your worries. First of all I would like to ask if you were aware that the cervical screening service in the uk switched to HPV first testing in 2019? This means that all screenings are now tested for HPV before the labs check for cell abnormalities. In the past smears were only tested for cell abnormalities first. This means that many women like you and I are getting a nasty shock when we test positive for HPV when in fact 80% of the population have it and don"t realise they have it as there are no symptoms and most people clear it within 2 years. The key is looking after your immune system. HPV can lie dormant for many years and there is no test for men and so finding out that you have it does not mean that you are dirty nor does it mean that you or your partner have cheated or been promiscuous. Jo's information pages have a lot more information on HPV and also have information booklets which you can order. Their helpline is also very useful if you are upset or worried. I personally feel that there should be a lot more effort to inform patients about HPV and how it works before they get a nasty shock. Apparently the new testing system means that many more lives will be saved which of course is great but I wonder whether the (possibly all male) scientists behind this have considered the emotional impact of mass testing for what is essentially a sexually transmitted disease. Apparently condoms offer some protection against HPV infection but not 100% as it is passed on so easily from skin to skin contact and practically everyone has it. The HPV vaccine protects against some but not all strains and the best way to protect yourself is to have the vaccine and attend all screenings offered to you. Also look after your immune system and if you are a smoker stop smoking. Please don't feel guilty or ashamed. You are not alone.

A x

ps By the way if your sample has tested positive for HPV the lab will have tested your sample for cell abnormalities and if they are either not there or just mild then that is the reason they just want to follow up in a year. Apparently the body's immune system normally clears HPV by itself within 2 years and so you have been put on a watch and wait. Cell changes are apparently very slow to develop (years) and so it is safe to wait a year unless you develop symptoms in the meantime in which case you need to let your GP know. Jo's information pages explain symptoms to look out for (bleeding between periods or after sex/abnormal discharge). I know it's scary but chances are your body will clear the HPV and getting screened again in a year means that if you have developed cell abnormalities then they can be treated before cell abnormalities have a chance to progress into cancer. Knowledge is power and will give you peace of mind. You will hopefully eventually reach a place where you can get on with your life and stop worrying. Remember the screening process is there to prevent cancer before it has a chance to start. You are not alone big hugs again A x

Thank you for your responses. I had heard in the news recently that they no longer look for cell abnormalities when doing a smear so I was worried because of that. Is this not the case? Edit: I realise this is the case if you have tested negative for HPV but in my worrying head I had forgotten that!!

My menstrual health has never been great but I am more likely to have very long cycles than bleed in between cycles. I am not the healthiest person but I do take vitamins and dont smoke/rarely drink alcohol. 

I feel better now, I am just a natural worrier so things like this without much explanation don't really sit well with me.

I just want to thank you 55 for your full explanation of HPV. My HPV test also recently came back positive and I am at the wait and see stage and your post has helped to put my mind at rest again for now!!


You're welcome Hope007!

I'm glad you feel better Hookaduck!

Thank you 551. Your post has helped me too. Really informative and reassuring.