[Question #52] Past genital warts 8.5 years ago (January 2007). Emotional counseling

100 months ago
Dr. Hook or Handsfield may answer.  I listened to Dr. Ina Park's podcast and have read Dr. Hook and Dr. Handsfield's commentary, and finally Dr. HHH's video on HPV.  I understand mine is long gone since it is now more than 8 years.

 (I had a possible wart removed...one doc didn't think it was another just said remove it by cryotherapy to be on the safe side in 2010, so maybe 5 years....but same difference long ago....).

I understand I have a greater chance of being struck by lightening than having genital warts come back from my previous exposure.  I understand that disclosure to future partners is not needed or necessary since everyone is exposed anyways.  I also get that virtually EVERYONE is exposed to HPV multiple times in their life.  For a number of years I accepted all this, walked around happy and completely forgot about genital warts.

Last year for whatever reason I started worrying about it even though no symptoms were present.  I have obsessive compulsive disorder about telling future sex partners.  Please know I am currently receiving professional counseling.

I just can't seem to shake the guilt of having warts in the past and feel compelled to tell potential girlfriends even though there is no medical risk.  When I have told women in the past.....while they liked my honesty they didn't feel it was necessary.  I actually felt dumb for talking about it or feeling bad....for god sakes it has been so long that I have seen a wart.  I used condoms consistently.  If a condom is used I for sure won't tell the girl about my past warts.  But eventually if we get serious we won't want to use condoms.

My question is:  Previously Dr. Handsfield stated that it may help a relationship to tell "the one"...that you may marry about past HPV.  I am having trouble digesting this....because I have OCD it just causes me to beat myself up and avoid dating/being intimate all together because I somehow feel guilt if I have unprotected sex and not tell the girl that I had a past resolved case of warts.  I feel like I would just be beating a dead horse and scaring the girl.  I know that I am being too honest...and I am basically asking for permission to let this go, not tell girls about my past resolved case of warts, and move on with life.  Without any guilt or condemnation.

Any insights are welcome.  Feel free to put me in my place for ranting and asking a riduculous question.  I just don't feel like it's fair to have to tell future partners about this.
100 months ago
Clarification.  In the fall of 2009 I was examined and found no warts.  In August of 2010 what I thought was a scar a physician assistant in a dermatology clinic thought was a wart and removed it by cyrotherapy.
100 months ago
So I have for sure been genital wart free for 5+ years.  My original case of genital warts was in January of 2007.
H. Hunter Handsfield, MD
100 months ago
Welcome to Ask the Expert and thanks for your question.

But honestly, I don't think I can help very much. You clearly describe your own awareness that this is a mental health issue, i.e. the problem is your OCD. Your particular obsession may be your past HPV, but HPV infection itself isn't the issue at all. You already know the important facts about HPV transmission. How you translate that knowledge into discussions with partners is up to you.

Since, you don't need to tell partners about your past warts at all, it's irrelevant whether or not you use condoms. Condoms don't provide very good protection against HPV anyway. For relationship reasons or just out of the goodness of your heart, you may want to tell future partners of your past warts. But whether you use condoms or not, or when you decide to stop using them, is irrelevant to this issue.

As for "permission to let this go", i.e. not tell partners:  a) You don't need anyone's permission. b) But you certainly have mine. In case it helps, I can tell you for sure that if I were in your situation, I would feel no need to tell partners about my past warts. I might decide to do it, in the name of open communication, but there is no medical or ethical requirement to do so.

It sounds like this is a big deal in your life, likely interfering with romantic success. If so, professional counseling probably is in order. I suggest it from compassion, not criticism.

I hope this has helped a little bit. Best wishes-- HHH, MD