[Question #5113] HPV Risk Analysis

25 months ago
Hi Doctor,

I had unprotected sex with someone whom i met on a dating website. 

The girl was slightly on her periods and we had few drinks. 

We did kissing and she performed oral and we had unprotected sex (i didn't ejaculated). We did the same thing twice over a period of 2 days and today she told me that she has the HPV virus (and nothing else). I am feeling so terrible right now coz i asked her if she is clean from all this.

1. What are my chances of getting the virus ? 

2. Can i do something now to protect myself ?

Please help me! i am so distressed by the news!
H. Hunter Handsfield, MD
H. Hunter Handsfield, MD
25 months ago
Welcome back to the forum. Thanks for your continued confidence in our services.

I understand your concern -- it's alarming to be told of exposure to an STD. However, this really is nothing to worry about. This event was no more risky than others you probably have had. Almost everybody gets genital HPV -- it's a normal part of being sexually active. If you have had 3 or more different sex partners in your life, there is a 50% chance you already have been infected with HPV. If you have had 10 partners, it's almost certain. (Roughly half of all sexually active persons have transmissble genital HPV infections. So if you have had 10 partners, you can assume 5 of them had active HPV. Your exposure to your recent partner is no more risk than all those other ones.) Condoms are only somewhat protective -- so you're probably already infected even if you have used condoms consistently. Could you have acquired a new HPV infection from these particular exposures?  Yes. But if so, it probably will never have any impact on your health, or the health of your current or future sex partners.

1. I cannot give a numerical risk. But you certainly could have been infected, if your partner's HPV infection is still active. But not necessarily -- and probably no harm if you were.

2. No. There is nothing to prevent HPV from taking hold after an exposure. For the future, you could be vaccinated against HPV, which will prevent future infection with the 9 HPV types that cause most cancers and genital warts.

Please do some reading about HPV. You could start with information offered by the sponsor of this forum, the American Sexual Health Association (www.ashasexualhealth.org); follow the links for STD and HPV information. (There's even a video by me about HPV, which should be reassuring.) Also information from the CDC, the US's main public health agency:  www.cdc.gov/std. So this really is no reason to be seriously distressed!

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

25 months ago
Thanks for your reply Dr HHH!

I talked to the girl and she said that she was first diagnosed with it in 2016 and then had another test done like 6 months ago and the doctor said she is clear (not sure if it is true but i asked her to go with me for another test).

I have few questions for you, Doctor : 

1. Will there be any symptoms if i am already exposed to this ?  Is it something to be really worried about ? Can i perform any tests ?

2. Will this virus go away of its own ?

3. What health precautions do i need to take ?

4. What will be the affect of this on my future relations ? Like if i get married and all. I dont want my future soulmate to blame me for all this.

Thanks again for your guidance. I feel somewhat relieved from what you said!

H. Hunter Handsfield, MD
H. Hunter Handsfield, MD
25 months ago
There is no other test in her that will change anything. The HPV test in women, done along with a pap smear, do not detect all infections. Although you might find it reassuring if she has a new test that is negative. it really isn't necessary. I repeat that it will not matter if you were exposed to her HPV infection. Just because she was diagnosed and told you does not make her any greater risk to you than all the other sex partners you had who also were infected with HPV.

1) Men with HPV rarely develop symptoms. You could develop genital warts, but probably not:  the HPV types that cause abnormal pap smears usually are different than those that cause warts. But warts are possible. They can show up anywhere from about 2 months to a year after exposure.

2) Yes. Most HPV infections are cleared by the immune system over a few months.

3) You need not take any health precautions on account of this particular event. However, you should be vaccinated against HPV, which will prevent infection with the 9 HPV types that together cause 90% of HPV related health problems (for any of those types with which you have not already been infected).

4) There is no reason this will have any effect at all on future sexual relationships.

Thanks for the kind comments. I'm glad my initial comments were helpful and hope these new ones also will be reassuring. Do your best to understand and accept that having genital HPV is a normal, expected, unavoidable facet of human sexuality. You're no different than anyone else. Get vaccinated, then don't worry about HPV.