You may know some basic information about the human papillomavirus, but do you know how to bring up your diagnosis with your current sexual partner?
Dr. Pari Ghodsi, a gynecologist and obstetrician at Presbyterian Hospital of Plano, said in an email that it’s important to first determine what type of HPV you have (with the help of a doctor) before talking to a sexual partner.
There are numerous strains that can lead to different conditions like genital warts, abnormal pap smears, cervical cancer, vaginal cancer, anal cancer or oral cancer.
She suggested bringing up the following information when talking to a sexual partner about HPV:
1) Keep in mind that most people will come in contact with at least one strain of HPV in a lifetime, and if you have HPV it doesn’t mean that you are promiscuous, or living an excessively risky lifestyle.
2) Anyone who has sex can get HPV, and even receiving the vaccine won’t protect you entirely from the few strains covered by the vaccine. Condoms will not protect you 100 percent either.
3) The good news is that most people who are exposed to HPV will be “clear” of the virus within two years, and it’s rare to progress to the cervical cancer stage. However, some people do experience recurrences. People may be exposed, be “clear” of the virus, and then have it return years later.
4) Men are not usually severely impacted by HPV, although they can be carriers. There is no test to check for carrier status in men currently.
5) “Basically, it is important to emphasize how common it is amongst our population, and that most of the time it just needs to be monitored in a woman so that we can ensure it does not progress to cervical cancer,” Ghodsi said.
6) “I explain to my patients how common it is and let them decide if they want to share with their partner,” Ghodsi said. Sometimes it takes years to even detect HPV's presence, so it can be unclear as to when a person is exposed.
7) It’s not certain why some people are infected with HPV yet don’t have any side effects, while others have abnormal Pap smears and cervical cancer.