[Question #4225] HPV

32 months ago

Hello,

I have a few questions regarding my situation and the time frame of genital warts.  I have not had sex in 5yrs which was with my ex one time. Before that it had been 2yrs since I had sex which was with someone I was in a 3yr relationship with.  Both had disclosed they never had any stds. I recently was tested for stds which was negative and my last pap test was 2yrs ago and normal and all previous paps were normal. I am 32, healthy and have never been pregnant.  8 months ago a gyno told me I had vestibular papillomatosis (a normal anatomical variant not an std).  Im pretty certain I’ve always had this since I look regularly over the years. Now I am paranoid it might be genital warts and am seeing another gyno in 2wks to confirm its vestibular papillomatosis.  From what I read online I want to make sure this is correct:

1.) Almost all genital warts will appear within 2yrs after infected? Majority show up within 6-8 months and up to 2yrs in a few people. What percentage of people infected have their warts show up within 2yrs?

2.) Genital warts go away on their own within 2yrs untreated in majority of people? What percentage?

3.) Given my history and it being 5yrs since I’ve had sex, would it be very unlikely that I would currently have genital warts? If they show up in 2yrs and resolve in 2yrs, a total of 4yrs and its been 5yrs since I last had sex.

H. Hunter Handsfield, MD
H. Hunter Handsfield, MD
32 months ago
Greetings, Tammy. Welcome to the forum.

Vestibular papillomatosis indeed is entirely normal in some women -- just a variation of normal anatomy. Basically, it's a bunch of skin tags and definitely not warts. Any reasonably trained physician would recognize them accurately and easily know they aren't warts. Further, your very long history, going back to your preteen years, more or less proves they aren't warts. Even without treatment, genital warts usually are cleared by the immune system within a few months, a couple of years at most. (Just like the hand warts most of us had when were were young children.) Anything persisting this long is exceedingly unlikely to be warts.

To your specific questions:

1) Yes, most genital warts appear within 6 months of exposure, sometimes as long as 2 years. I would estimate 95% within 2 years.

2) Yes, see above. Again, I would estimate 90+% within 2 years.

3) Yes, very unlikely.

I would say you are too focused on the time frames. Pay even more attention to a) the prior exams you have had and b) that visual distinction between vestibular papillomatosis and warts is very reliable. From all you say, I see absolutely no reason to be concerned about genital warts. You can expect your upcoming gyn visit to confirm this.

I hope this information is helpful. Let me know if anything isn't clear.

HHH, MD
---
32 months ago
Wonderful thank you very much! You made me feel much better and less nervous for my upcoming gyno appointment.  One other thing to clarify is I am 32yrs old now, so the history I gave takes me back to 22yrs old. Im not sure if it matters but in my early 20’s I had approx 5 times unprotected sex with men I was not in a relationship with. Would that be something that would change your answer?  Is it possible I contracted hpv genital wart strains from these occurrences and am now having an outbreak?  could these occurrences possibly cause an outbreak of warts in the future? Or bc this was so long ago it would be highly unlikely to effect me now or in the future?

Thank you
H. Hunter Handsfield, MD
H. Hunter Handsfield, MD
32 months ago
With 5 lifetime sex partners, you can be reasonably sure you have been infected with HPV, perhaps more than once. But probably not with a wart causing type. Most HPV infections never cause symptoms, but not true for the main wart-causing types (mostly HPV6 and 11). Some research studies show that most people with HPV 6/11 develop visible warts within a few months, so absence of warts is fair evidence you have not been infected with those types. There is no way to know for sure, but statistically it is unlikely. In any case, with no warts in the past 10+ years, there is no reason to suppose or fear that they would develop now.---
32 months ago
Great thanks again for your help!
H. Hunter Handsfield, MD
H. Hunter Handsfield, MD
32 months ago
You're welcome. I'm glad to have helped.

---