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I had hpv, I was in a 20 year marriage...can I assume it was sexually transmitted by my husband?

By April 6, 2010 - 1:32pm
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I would like to know the likelyhood that the cervical cancer I had-it was diagnosed 20 years into our marriage, was transmitted by my husband?

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Hi, Kathy,

Welcome to EmpowHer! And thank you so much for your question.

It's a complicated one, and here's why.

The absolute, definitive cause of cervical cancer has not been determined. But the primary risk factor is two types of the virus called human papillomavirus, or HPV. Evidence of HPV is found in nearly 80% of cervical carcinomas -- but not all.

Yes, you can get HPV by having sexual contact with someone who has it. The problem with determining exactly when you got it is this: It can lie dormant for years and you wouldn't know you had it.

But there are other risk factors as well. Women who smoke, for instance, are twice as likely to develop cervical cancer. Middle-aged women are diagnosed more often than younger women. Women in minority communities are more at risk. Here's a good page on risk factors and causes:


Since you were in a marriage for 20 years, barring these other risk factors, it feels like you're making a valid assumption -- that you got the HPV virus from your only sexual partner in those years. But unfortunately, there's not a way to know for sure.

The most important thing is your treatment and recovery. How are you doing?

April 8, 2010 - 9:39am
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