[Question #5996] HPV and Sex with GF

19 months ago
Hello,

A few months back, my GF noted that I had a few warts on my penis. I consulted with a Urologist who confirmed I had HPV warts. My GF now got checked through a visual inspection with lugol's iodine and the doctor spotted something, so she is doing a biopsy and we will receive the results in 10 days. In the meantime, I wanted to ask:

- How worried should we be? Could this be a cancerous growth or could it just be a wart? I have read that the type of HPV that causes warts doesn't cause cancer, so I wasn't too worried, is this true?
- Regarding our sexual life: I have treated my warts with verrutop and they have mostly gone away, I just have one left that I will treat in the next few days. We haven't had sex in the past month or so. How should we proceed? No sex until we both clear everything? Sex with condoms? How about oral sex?

Thank you 
19 months ago
One last question:

- Am I correct to assume that the cancer risk for men is very low? I've felt a bit burdened by this whole ordeal as we discovered my warts first and my GF does regular pap tests so I just wanted to clear myself from risk so that we can focus on her. Are there any tests I could do? 
H. Hunter Handsfield, MD
H. Hunter Handsfield, MD
19 months ago
Welcome to the forum. Thanks for youir question.

Your partner's evaluation was very thorough. Most experts would not have used Lugol's solution or any other special technique, just simple visual inspection. In fact, CDC advises and most experts agree your partner didbn't even need to be examined. Official advice is that partners of persons with genital warts should seek care if they notice anything, but otherwise no need. In any case, with only a single spot seen, the odds are the biopsy won't show a wart or any other HPV related problem. If it does, a wart is far more likely than cancer, although I cannot say cancer is impossible. However, HPV related cancers are very uncommon compared with genital warts. In any case, even cancer wouldn't likely be a serious worry. Localized skin cancers caused by HPV ususlly are easily cured with chemical treatment and/or minor surgery.

There was no need for the two of you to stop having sex and you certainly can resume it now. Since you've been having regular sex, your partner has been repeatedly exposed to your warts, and if she has HPV, you have been exposed to that. Stopping sex now is locking the barn door after the horse is not only out of the barn, but galloping over distant fields:  it's far too late to make any difference in risk for either of you. And by sex I mean any kind of sex that gives you mutual pleasure -- vaginal, oral, anal, or whatever.

Deal with the biopsy result when you have it, but even that is not likely to make any difference in sexual practices between you.

And in reply to your closiing question, your assumption is exactly correct. And don't feel like you've been singled out for having warts. Genital warts are diagnosed in at least 15% and probably up to 25-30% of all people at least once in their lives. And 90% have or have had HPV, with or without warts, abnormal pap smear, etc. Getting and having genital HPV is a normal, expected, pretty much unavoidable aspect of being sexual.

I hope these comments are helpful and reassuring. Let me know if anything isn't clear.

HHH, MD
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