Should I be afraid to have sex?

Like many ladies, I recently had my smear to be told it was abnormal and I have HPV. I had the biopsy, was told I had CIN3 pre cancerous cells and had them removed wth LLETZ. A rollercoaster of emotions having lost my mom to cervical cancer but pleased it has been removed and hoping it doesn’t return before my follow up smear. The NHS apparently do not disclose what HPV strand you have but you can find out privately; has anyone done this? I am convinced I have one of the high grade strands as my pre cancerous cells had developed and spread quite quickly (3 years since the last smear for CIN3 coverage) given the fact they tell you it can take 10 for cervical cancer to develop I feel mine had spread quick quickly from nothing to almost Completely. As I’m worried about the HPV type and the speed this developed I’m now too worried to have sex again as I don’t want to give it chance to soread again. I’m single and worried about Meeting someone, the usual, do I tell them? Is it necessary? Despite how common it is will they not Want to be with me? Psychologically damaged by sex, whatever next! Do I need to worry about sex? 

Hi There, I don‘t think it’s likely for CIN3 to progress that quickly from nothing within 3 years. What I do know: smears are not 100% accurate for picking up CIN at every screening. However, if it is missed at one, then there’s time to pick it up at the next one in 3 years time, because of its slow progression. With me, I had persistent CIN1 for nearly 3 years with high risk HPV, before being discharged back to 3 yearly smears after only one ’normal’ smear. 3 years later (May 2018), I’m now have very deep CIN3 and booked in for a hysterectomy. So it’s possible that I wasn’t actually ‘clear’ in 2015. I was not told which strain of HPV I have, but it’s probably 16 from a chat with someone in the pharma industry, which is the most common (about 70%) strain within the infected population. Because of smears not being that accurate, the programme for testing has now changed and it has moved into testing and looking for high risk HPV instead. Hopefully, this will improve the diagnoses and pick up rate for testing.

What I do of HPV is that once you’ve cleared that particular strain, you won’t get THAT strain again. However, you are still at risk of contracting other high risk strains. There is no reason why you should not have the HPV vaccine, even after being previously infected. Even though the NHS guidelines recommends the vaccine is given to people under the age of 25 (?), Gardasil actually states it can be given to people up to the age of 45. However, this isn’t supported by the NHS, so you would have to pay to go private to have it. From a chat with my knowledgeable friend, he has advised me even after the hysterectomy to have the vaccine (Gardasil 9). Interestingly, it has been found through studies that many women whom have been previously infected with HPV, have managed to clear future infections much quicker after being vaccinated. The theory being: most HPV strains a genetically linked. So if you’re vaccinated against one or several strains, this can improve your ability to clear other strains too that’s not in the vaccine. This has been well documented by the vaccine companies and I’ll try to find a link to it.

Anyhow, if you have cleared the infection, then I don’t think you need to inform any future partners; if you haven’t, then it’s up to you to disclose. Morally, in an ideal world, people should, as to give the other person an informed decision. There are ways to reduce the transmission, i.e. condoms, although this isn’t foolproof.

Whether to have sex again with the worry of contracting another infection is quite worrying for all of us ladies. I imagine for people whom are single, it’s exceptionally quite worrying and only you can make that decision. But I suggest to make an informed decision and find as much information as you can. The best thing to do would to speak with your GP or an expert in the field, whom can explain the risks to you. In my opinion, I wouldn’t be worried about having sex again, although I would be more aware of HPV now. I had heard of it before I was diagnosed, I wasn’t as well informed about the potential risks associated with it.

I hope the above has been helpful for you? I know it’s difficult, but try not to dwell on it too much. Take from your experience that you’re much more knowledgeable than before, which I think is a good thing. 

Wow, thanks Jools1969 for responding and so comprehensively too. I do think my biggest fear is that i did progress to CIN3 within just 3 years, I see that as quite a fast progression but I don’t really know. I have made an appointment with my GP for a follow up next week and will ask for more information on my concerns around sex and the growth rate.

i did have the HPV vaccination when I was 20, so 13 years ago now. I think the recommended age is 13 or pre sexual activity? although it is not hereditary, they gave it to me because of my mother. needless to say I don’t think it has been all that effective, however, as you say it may well have fought off other strands already which I will be thankful for. Are there different types of the vaccination or is Gardasil 9 the only one? Wondering if I should check whether there’s one I haven’t had.  

I’m So sorry to hear that you have now progressed to having a hysterectomy. I can only imagine what you are going through and hope that you recover quickly and to Very good health x