[Question #7203] Question about genital warts

6 months ago
I had a few genital warts that I cleared up years ago.  I recently found a small bump on the side of the head of the penis that I thought might be one, so I went to the dermatologist and had it cryo treated.  I refrained from sexual activity after discovering the potential wart and until it was healed after treatment.  I had a sexual encounter and did have genital to genital contact with a woman.  About 5 days later I noticed another potential wart on my head I had never seen before.  I don't know if it appeared since that encounter or not. But if it was there when I had sexual activity, does it definitely mean I passed it on to my partner?  I am feeling very concerned.  I know that HPV can reoccur after years.  But is it possible for your body to clear it and not have any more warts?  
H. Hunter Handsfield, MD
H. Hunter Handsfield, MD
6 months ago
Welcome back again. 

Did the dermatologist confirm the bump was a wart? Presumably yes, or s/he wouldn't have treated it with cryotherapy. On the other hand, there are plenty of causes of skin bumps other than warts. So it isn't at all certain that your newly recognized bump is a wart. If it is, there isn't necessarily any risk to your partner. Since genital HPV is very frequent -- 90% of all people have been infected -- she may well have had previous infection with the HPV type causing it. In that case, she is immune.

My advice is to return to the dermatologist and have your newly discovered bump evaluated. If it's a wart, it would be a kindness to inform your recent partner.

It is true that warts can recur after several years. But usually they do not -- indeed the immune system usually clears HPV and recurrent warts are the exception, not the usual outcoe.

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

HHH, MD
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6 months ago
Thank you for the reply. I have always tried to be diligent in abstaining from sexual activity when I had a wart if was being treated in the past, and I feel horrible.  But as you said with the prevalence of HPV I shouldn’t feel like I potentially gave someone something utterly dangerous.  

If I can get more  personal, I am actually looking to start therapy for sex addiction,  I feel I have an issue and want to address it.  I will be frank, the person I had the recent relations with is someone that gives sensual massages.  She does perform brief oral and vaginal sex (protected).  But as I saw on one of your other responses, her risk of HPV infection is still high with a male condom.  I did get friendly with her and this is why I had genital contact unprotected.  My guess is that doing what she does, she has been exposed to HPV already.  

Are there any resources you can recommend to treat sex addiction?  I feel I need to before something more serious happens.  
H. Hunter Handsfield, MD
H. Hunter Handsfield, MD
6 months ago
You can safely assume your massage/sex partner has been repeatedly exposed and almost certainly is infected with HPV. If she's smart, she's also been vaccinated to protect against the 9 most important HPV types -- including HPV6 and 11, the types that cause ~90% of genital warts.

With apology, we're not psychologists and don't attempt to keep track of sexual counseling resources. Your personal physician would be a good place to start, or explore such resources online. My guess is that there are numerous options -- although of course you need to be careful, e.g. check out references and reliable testimonials. Good luck with it.
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