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p_176
hi folks
i am new here....have had hpv for going on 3 years now...with constant outbreaks....was wondering how you view sex and relationships after learning you had hpv....i'm engaged but i really feel it's not fair for my fiance to be with me, since i frequently have outbreaks and various treatments....any advice? please?
bklynhermit
oh, it is not a happy day dipping into this thread.

yesterday, i found out my last pap was abnormal, and now i have to have a biopsy. since i usually see a midwife, i've had to call around to find a gynecologist. my health insurance tends to be spotty (oh, the life of a freelancer), so planned parenthood was at the top of my list. i called them up this morning to see about scheduling a biopsy, and the receptionist i spoke with told me that my health plan (one of the huge HMOs) doesn't cover colposcopy/biopsy after an abnormal pap smear.

it's possible she was wrong -- HMOs are sprawling and I've already come accross things my specific plan covers that aren't normally covered. but it's also possible she's right. which amazes me.

HPV is the most common STI -- something like 90% of all sexually active people have it at one time or another. It's often asymptomatic. It leads to cervical cancer. so WHY ISN'T PROPER SCREENING FOR IT COVERED BY MY HEALTH INSURANCE?!

I mean, i'm assuming that my HMO would cover screenings for other cancers -- mammograms, colonoscopies, etc. so why not this? how effing outrageous!
dandelion
I sooo empathize bklynhermit. I work at a big nyc law firm, so you'd think I wouldn't have issues with insurance, and I just found out that starting Jan. 1, they changed their health plan somehow, so now my acid treatments for hpv skin bumps are considered outpatient surgery...which gives me a $150 copay. It is not even close to being surgery! But the bitch I spoke with from my insurance gave me the whole spiel about how the American Medical Association considers this surgery, bla bla. I'm like, i was never told my insurance plan changed so I kept going for treatments...and she was just like, that's between you and your employer. I hung up on her, I'm just so frustrated. Yeah like i'm going to discuss this with my employer. So basically I have three visits unpaid for right now, almost $500, and what do I do in the future? I make a good salary but who the hell has $150 to burn every few weeks? I can't stand it anymore. Why can't it just go away!?? I feel like it never will.

I have a question, has anyone out there tried laser surgery for removal? I'm considering doing that because i'm not about to keep paying $150 for acid treatments or freezing which don't work anyway, and my gyno was going to give me a referral to someone he knew who is actually an oncologist who does it, but I stormed out of the office after being harassed about my bill. So I have no idea what type of dr. would do that kind of laser surgery for this problem or who to call. Anyone have any ideas??

P_176 I have continuing probs with my sex life over this. Since I was diagnosed about a year ago, it is always an issue. Basically my dr says not to have sex when you have a wart, or after treatment for two weeks. So considering they keep recurring, I have pretty much been abstinent much of that time. My husband tries to be understanding but I just don't really think he gets it and of course we are both frustrated. Plus I pretty much don't receive oral sex anymore which I really can't blame him for but, it just sucks basically. Sometimes I think this is the worst STD (besides HIV of course) because it seems like for some people, nothing works for the bumps and they come and go all the time. At least with herpes there is valtrex.
bklynhermit
hah! dashed home from work, pulled out the HMO paperwork, and from everything i can tell, i'm perfectly covered, unless i were to have to have more frequent pap smears as a result (i'm only eligible for two freebies a year). i'm concerned about whether i need referral paperwork, but i can probably call my midwife to ask about it.

boo, planned parenthood NYC (yay PP other places, just boo NYC)
fuego_lento
Bklyn, I was going to say the same thing about it being ridiculous your HMO wouldn't cover the biopsy. Glad PP was wrong about it.

Dandelion, P_176, I feel for you. I had an easy time with warts -- mine cleared up in 2 weeks and after one little "follow-up" wart a bit later on, I haven't seen any activity since. Thing is, I have an incredibly persistent case of herpes (Valtrex may work for some folks, but not so much for me) and even now, years after my first outbreak, I still get at least one outbreak a month (this is down from constant outbreaks during my first year, but the "average" number of outbreaks per year is supposed to be 2-6, not 12-15). I've whined about it ad nauseam in the herpes thread, but I do understand how it is to feel like there's never a safe time to have sex. I'm just about always waiting for an outbreak, having one, or waiting for it to clear up. Lather, rinse, repeat. I'm single, but the feeling that I can't promise anyone a normal sex life, free of obvious risks, really weighs on me. It's hard. So yeah, I can relate.

Oh yeah, and Dandelion, try calling a dermatologist for the laser treatments, if you decide to go that route.
p_176
dandelion - laser surgery - think carefully about it - i have had 2 so far, and will probably have another in about three weeks.
it's painful recovery, but a quick recovery (about 2 weeks, with the worst of the pain in the first 2-3 days)...it's really not any better than acid treatment - the hpv can come back, i think it's like 20-30% chance of recurrence?
as for sex - my dr is like, well even if you don't have an outbreak you can still pass it on...so just have sex/it's your boyfriend so he's ok with the situation....my response is just that i don't think it's fair to my boyfriend - it's not his problem it's my problem....i just really feel like i should never have had sex in the first place...he should just find someone else who is healthier than i am.
alwaysonmymind
I have hpv but my doctor says its cervical dyplesia. When I went to the gyno I showed him a little bump like a pimple I had on my vagina. he said it was just a pimple most likely from shaving. So that eventually went away and a year later I have another pimple. It's very small. Do you think this can be a wart? Do any of you have these symptoms?
bklynhermit
there are a lot of strains of HPV (something like 100, around 30 of which are sexually transmitted). Some strains manifest themselves as genital warts. Other strains are the ones that cause cancer. If you have cervical dysplasia, that means you already have one of the cancer-causing strains (dysplasia being a pre-cancerous cervical abnormality - which is probably what i have, too). That strain doesn't involve exterior warts. However. HPV is an incredibly common STI, and it's entirely possible to have more than one strain at the same time. Just because you already have one strain that doesn't cause warts doesn't mean you can't also have a strain that causes warts. Or at least, that's the way I understand it.

Either way, you should probably talk to your gyno about it.
suffering
Does cervical dyplesia show up on a pap smear? Or do you have to request another test?
alwaysonmymind
Suffering, cervical dyplesia does show up on your pap smear, it shows up as abnormal. From there your gyno will look inside your cervix through a microscope to see what's going on. It is possible to have hpv without an abnormal pap smear. Unfortnutely, most people don't know they have hpv until they have an abnormal pap. I think I have had hpv for about four years and didn't have an abnormal pap until last year. My body just changed down "there" I started getting infections really easily and it just feels "different" from what it used too.

I do have an important question. Have any of your doctors monitored your abnormal cells on your cervix to see if they go away by themselves. Mine has for almost a year now and it is still there. He says it is still mild and we will look at again in a couple of months. I just want to have a LEAP already. Have any of you experienced this?
suffering
alwaysonmymind: Thanks for the info. So is there any other way to detect it before it gets to the point of showing up on an abnormal pap smear? So far all my pap tests have been normal but as you say that doesn't mean I don't have it.

The thing is I am very wary of testing methods. I had a chlamydia infection in my urethra for probably two years that no doctor picked up on (not even the urogynecologist who swabbed my urethra!). Finally I went to see a really excellent doctor and he found the infection and treated it and it's gone now. But to say the least I have lost a lot of faith in doctors/testing methods.

Is it true that there is now a vaccine against HPV? I thought I had read that somewhere.
p_176
i just told my fiance that we can't get married 'cause of the hpv.
pixiedust
P, don't throw away a good man over HPV! A good man, isn't going to care. Mr. Pixie barely paused when I told him I have it, and that he would likely get it. Most people develope some kind of immunity over time and break out much less. I had breakouts for 2 years and then they suddenly stopped. It is so common, you shouldn't let it ruin your life.
p_176
maybe...i doubt it though. it's going 3 years, and constant outbreaks, and more than 3 surgeries. currently am waiting to hear if i have to have a cone biopsy - i told my dr to just remove everything in there - he thinks that a low grade pap result wont turn into cancer but i've had precancers more than once.
as for the man, i see it as ruining his life - he should not marry me. we can't be intimate, and i have no more interest in sex - i should never have had sex in the first place. i know it's common but no one i have ever talked to had the same symptoms or surgeries that i have had. i'm serioulsy at the point where i dont want to treat it anymore but will let it turn into cancer. that would be less painful than having laser surgeries every other month.
roseviolet
P, how does he feel about it? What has he said?
p_176
let me clarify - he does not think it's a problem - he thinks it will go away or get better. i'mnot sure he actually looked at any of the websites i gave him to check out regarding the hpv.
it's not fair to him to be wiht someone who can never have sex again (when i have surgery, i cant have sex or do exercise for weeks at a time, and thus i am not only diseased, but overweight). when i have this cone biopsy (given my medical history, it does not matter that the actual results won't be in for a week - i know it will come back that i have to have basically my cervix removed), that's another 2 months. he should find someone else.
i appreciate that other people's boyfriends/husbands did not have a problem wiht it. but i have a problem with it, and no matter how much we are in love or whatever, that's not going to fix this issue.
alwaysonmymind
Have you guys seen all of the HPV commercials. Millions of people have it. We are not alone
pixiedust
unless its an issue where he really wants kids and you aren't sure that you can have any, I would not let it be an issue.
I have HPV, it does NOT have me!
roseviolet
A couple of years ago a good friend of mine was going through treatments very similar to yours, P. She also got a cone biopsy ... and was married just a few months later. They've been married for nearly 3 years now and are very happy. This can be the same for you, too, if you want it to be.

I, myself, have endometriosis, which is a painful disease that affects my reproductive system. I go through periods of extraordinary pain that makes vaginal intercourse absolutely impossible. This can go on for months at a time. The pain can be debilitating both physically and emotionally. It makes me feel like a bad partner. It makes me feel like less of a woman. So I think I have a good idea of the toll that HPV is taking on your spirit.

But I learned something. I learned that, just because I'm sick, I don't have to give up everything that brings me joy! You can still have a rewarding life, P. And I know it's hard. Lord, do I ever know! There were many times that I felt guilty that my partner had to "put up" with me and my diseased reproductive system (and digestive system because my disease likes to spread). I felt guilty about the emotional strife that comes with my illness. But I found that people who love me - the people who really love me - accept every part of me. Warts and all. I know that my husband wishes that I didn't have endometriosis, but he married me anyway. Because he knows there's a hell of a lot more to me than this disease. Yes, there are obstacles. But we work through them. Besides, there are plenty of ways to be affectionate without vaginal penetration.

P, I don't know you. But I know there's a lot more to you than just HPV. And I'm sure it's worth loving. It sounds to me like you're going through a very difficult time emotionally-speaking. Have you thought about talking to a therapist about all of this?
p_176
therapy won't change anything. been there done that...of course it did acheive the desired effect of me not talking to my exbf from college, but that's another story.
i've been telling the boyfriend he's deluded by thinking this situation is going to get better..but really it was me who was being delusional by thinking i could have a normal life, get married and have sex. that's not actually possible. in the past 2.5 years, there has not been a time when i did not have an outbreak. it has been constant. the amount of and seriousness of surgeries has not changed that fact. frankly, i can't afford financially to pay for surgery anymore. i almost can't afford my house.
he's actually not really willing to risk getting gw, but he still wants to have sex, which makes no sense to me. i've been telling him to start looking around. in the next few weeks, i find out if i have to have the surgery where they take a large section of your cervix out, supposedly to remove abnormal cells, but in my case, i must be immunosuppressed from asthma and allergies, they'd just come back. i'm not wanting to waste the time on the surgery (for which i would need a month off of work, at least, and i don't have near that kind of leave).
so, when your life revolves around surgery, then no, you're not living normally. i'm resigned to that now, so whatever.
thanks for listening though...
shanneroo
Dandelion,
If you and your partner are willing to take a risk, condoms can be made into dental dams for oral sex. You just cut off the tip, and then cut the ring that's left. Unroll it, and voila! - a dental dam. You can put lube on the vagina side so it feels better. One thing you have to remember is that you have to make a new dam if the one you are using falls from whoever's hands are holding it against your genitals. The unlubricated condoms are a bit easier to hold in place than the lubricated condoms, but some people use the flavoured condoms to make it more 'fun', and as long as your fluids are staying on your side, you are lowering the risk of passing it to your partner without having to go without. - Just an idea... :-)
shanneroo
There are some articles that say HPV can go through latex, but the jury is still out on whether it can get through polyurethane. - So maybe it's a bigger risk than I stated earlier.
saktii
It's been YEARS since I regularly posted on this thread, but now that I need the Bust Lounge, the Bust Lounge is still here. Thank Goodness.
I, too, was recently diagnosed with HPV after getting into my first serious relationship in almost three years.
It's funny how persistent the feelings of shame are, despite the fact that reports show that 70% of ALL sexually active adult women have this virus, and condoms may not protect much.
I keep reminding myself that it doesn't make me dirty, and my new boyfriend doesn't seem to be bothered by it at all.
I guess my question is, is it really necessary to refrain from sex until the warts have been treated? Because, I'm in a new relationship, here, and we're finding it completely impossible to keep our hands off of one another.
We have sex anywhere from 3 to 5 times a night, and I don't know if some little warties are really going to slow us down.
Advice????
suffering
I heard there is now a vaccine for HPV. Can anyone tell me about this? Thanks.
pixiedust
It has never slowed me and Mr. Pixie down. He knows what te risks are and since we are in a comitted, monogamous relationship, he accepts the risks.
alwaysonmymind
Apparently, there is a new vaccine for certain strains of HPV, it is still being tested but hopeful....my gyno and doctor both told me...it is suppossed to come out very soon. My question is does a vaccine make it go away; or just prevent other people from getting it?
fuego_lento
Alwaysonmymind, the vaccine only prevents you from infection with one high-risk strain of HPV (HPV-16). If you're already infected with that strain, the vaccine won't do anything to "cure" it, nor will it keep you from infection with any other strain of the virus.

This link explains the vaccine and how it works. Scroll down to "limitations" for more info on what the vaccine can and can't do.
saktii
Pixiedust-- regarding the aloe you've been using, could that be used on interior warts as well? They seem to be getting smaller already just from the one treatment at the doctor's this past week, but I'd like to speed the process along if at all possible before I go in for my colo.
pixiedust
I don't get the interior ones, so I don't know...I would be a little concerned about the possibility of upsetting the ph in there and getting a yeastie or BV, but you might check into it. I gues the base for the gel probably isn't all that different than lube.
johanna
Hi everyone,

What have your experiences been like telling new partners about having HPV? I have been in a relationship for the last year, and my partner has it. He told me before we started having sex, and after I did research (and realized it was overwhelmingly likely that I would contract it anyway at some point in my life), I was fine with having sex with him. I wanted to break the stupid taboo that says you can get warts on your hands and feet, but it's something else entirely to have them on your crotch.

Anyway, fast forward one year and I'm not sure I want to be in this relationship anymore. All this time, I didn't care about HPV. (I had one outbreak, and got it blasted with liquid nitrogen, and finally got it resolved. Nothing since.) Now, all of a sudden, I feel like I have this ball and chain attaching me to him. I want to be single again and see other people, but now I feel like I have to be so careful, because what will they say?

My thoughts when I contracted it were that I had no interest in casual relationships. I though that whoever really cared for me woulnd't care. Now I just want to have fun, and feel like I can't. I worry that they will freak out and think it's not worth it for something so casual. Or worse, that they will tell other people and there'll be that taboo again, right in my face.

So, I want to know how you guys have dealt with this experience. Please share your thoughts!
bklynhermit
I haven't had to deal with it, yet. But i'm single, and in the past i've had a lot of casual relationships and, yes, casual sex.

which I kind of realize now I can't so much do anymore. In fact, since I realize I've probably had several partners since I contracted HPV, it really freaks me out to think that I've passed it along to as many as 7 people before I found out.

Besides taking this as a SERIOUS warning about all the casual sex, I'm not sure yet what I'm going to do about it. In an ideal world, I'll tell new partners as they come, and those partners will be OK with it and we'll use protection to the extent that it's possible and move on. Then there's my worst fears - that I'll never have sex again because it will disgust any potential partner. My tendency to fuck first and get to know you later is a problem too -- I'm going to have to completely rethink how I approach relationships. And since I get the feeling that fuck first and ask later is the norm in my circle, I'm not sure what that will mean.
fuego_lento
I've only had one person react badly to the news. The others have taken it in varying degrees of pretty well, which, now that I think about it, corresponds to how well they know me as a person.

Where I might've let things proceed physically at a faster rate back in the day, I've become really big on making out (and keeping at least my underwear on) until I feel like I can gauge the person's reaction to my news. If I don't feel like he can handle it, I make my excuses and disappear.
johanna
Thanks for sharing your experience!
Anyone else have stuff to add? Everyone seems to quiet on the matter.
saktii
Well, i guess for me it's just soooo not a big deal that I don't have that much to add. It's such a common thing, I feel like putting too much emphasis on it actually is counter-productive. It would be like me obsessively feeling shame and guilt and worry over acne, or something.
johanna
Saktii - so how does it go when you tell new partners? Do you have a way to tell them that seems to work best?
bklynhermit
i don't want to feel all obsessive and weird, but i found out i have HPV because i have the kind tha leads to cancer (and now have to go in for a biopsy). i guess if it was just the wart kind, i'd be more chill, but the idea of basically giving someone cancer squicks me out. especially since i'm bi, and a lot of times i'm sleeping with women. it would be WEIRD to look someone in the face who i was about to sleep with without telling them about the HPV, knowing that they could die of cervical cancer years down the line and it would basically be my fault. i guess with men it's less transparent -- we don't like to think about our partners' future (or current) other partners, and there you add a whole other level of responsibility, the guy's to his other partners. so i feel like, with women at least, i'm going to have to talk about it.
saktii
well, I just found out and i'm in a new monogamous relationship. If I had to tell a new partner, I'd just lay the facts down for them. My current partner didn't seem to be fazed by it at all. I've spoken with alot of people, and the general consensus seems to be that men don't mind nearly as much as the women do (probably because they don't have to deal with the cervical cancer aspect).
Now, if I were sleeping with a woman, I would definitely be a little more concerned.
pixiedust
Yeah, sleeping with women would give it a whole other aspect. Most men are just carriers anyway and don't even have the warts so most don't really care. Especially since it is so common. After I had it about a year, the guy I was dateing(older guy) found out his ex wife has it(got it after they broke up)and his daughter has it. I know of at least three other people who have it. I would probably be more sqeeked out if I had the cancer causing kind. The doctor I went to told me I have the mildest form.
saktii
even my MOTHER has it, and she's not exactly the sleeping around kind!
p_176
good news - i don't have to have a cone biopsy.
it's a start:-)
mela
I was a vigin when I met my boyfriend and soon after got on birth control. I have sine then contracted HPV. My doctor did a colposcopy last thurday so I am awaiting what's new. I havent had any exterior warts however I started noticing somethng was not right by a horrible smell that wouldn't go away. Since then I have been treated four times for BV. I asked my doctor if it is associated to HPV and she says "no." My question is has anyone else had this issue to BV abd HPV?

Thanks
roseviolet
Such good news, P! I guess congratulations are in order!
littlemartha
pixiedust- my ob told me that the cancer causing types of HPV are not known. how do you know that yours is the lowest? is that just not true?
p_176
thanks roseviolet!!

littlemartha - basically any kind of hpv strain can turn into cancer. BUT in most cases of cancer, there are only a few hpv strains that are consistently found (i assume by hpv testing). therefore, in the strains that normally cause just genital warts (not cancer) - there are different strains that are consistently found.
make sense?
bklynhermit
my understanding, which could easily be wrong, was that the genital wart strains are no/lo risk for cervical cancer, whereas if you have cervical lesions or abnormalities that's the high risk cancer strain (which is unlikely to also involve warts).

of course, however, there are something like 100 possible strains of HPV. and the more i read, the more it seems like virtually no research has been done on any of them... :-(

mela - i feel like i've read that HPV can sometimes make one more suceptible to BV. i don't know how true that really is (see above about how little we know), and i definitely don't think HPV "causes" BV or anything like that. but there's no reason they couldn't simply co-occur.
aes5j
i just found out from my doctor that i have dysplasia (probably moderate) and so i have to have a colposcopy. she said that this is probably the result of a previous infection (i'm assuming HPV). here's the thing: i've been with my boyfriend for a year and a half, i had my last annual just under a year ago and the pap came back normal. i haven't had sex with anyone but him since we started dating and now i'm wondering if he gave me HPV recently which would mean he's been sleeping with someone else. does anyone know the timeline on this stuff? might i have had HPV before my last pap and it cleared itself up but then came back and caused this? any help/advice is much appreciated
tatiana
aes5j, my understanding is that the timeline is not that tight. I think you can be infected for a long time and then other factors (stress, poor nutrition, phase of the moon, who knows what) can allow abnormal cells to arise. Anyway, I will try to remember to ask my bf (used to work in cancer research) about it.

All I'm trying to say is that I don't think this is cause to believe that your bf has been cheating on you. You should ask your doc next time you see her/him. It's a legitimate question, and definitely worth asking a professional to put your mind at ease.
mela
Thanks bklynhermit. I asked my doctor and she says no however I never had this issue before. Doctors don't know everything.

aes5j I think maybe it took some time for the cells to develop. My doctor says that it doesn't show right away (the HPV virus). I don't see much information on this HPV topic. I had my colposcopy last thursday and am now waiting for the results. You might have had it very, very mild and it didn't pick up on your last pap. I really wish I had a better answer for you. I am just frustrated that HPV and BV are things that doctors know very little about. Also when you had your last pap where you having unprotected sex? where you on birth control pills? There are many things that might come into play in determining when you might have contracted it. Perhaps your immune system has been low lately or perhaps you might have been on bc pills that were creating some sort of deficency. Being that I was a virgin when I contracted it my doctor says it is from my bf however she also says for some women it takes years to show. She also said you may even be able to get it from sex with a condom. They don't even know for sure. I wouldn't beat your bf up over this if he is a good guy. You might have been carrying this for a while and just didn't know till yor last pap. I am 25 nd my doctor says it could clear in a few months to even 5 years. They really don't know much.
chani
bklynhermit: Although the high risk strains of HPV can definitely be passed on to female partners, the whole point of having paps and HPV testing done is that if someone did acquire the high risk virus and it did cause mild cellular changes (dysplasia), they could be treated early and PREVENT cancer. The risk of progressing to cancer if you're having regular paps is waaay less than 1%. I'll also say that in Canada they did a big study of sexually active women and over 60% of them were positive for HPV. So most of us have it, it never causes us problems and it goes away on its own. Your partner probably already has it!
aes5j
during my last pap i had been on the pill again for about 2 months and was not using condoms with him anymore. i'll definitely ask my doctor next time i talk to her about the timing of this stuff and report back on it so as to help out anyone in a simliar position. thanks for the help and let me know if anyone finds out anything new.

anyone find it funny that they've been working on a pill to fix ED for years but it seems they're only in the beginning stages of understanding HPV now?
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