[Question #880] Follow up to hpv clearance 8 months ago.

51 months ago
Doctors.  I thought i had cleared the virus but around one month ago i saw 2 spots on my penis. Went to the gum clinic and the nurses weren't sure whether they were warts. However,both were frozen off. They said it looked like warts as they turned white.  This has worried me as i had intercourse with my lady around 11 months ago.  She has no symptons.  Frankly i am baffled  . I had gone longer than 7 months without seeing anything. Is this common and if this is a relapse is there any possibility i will ever become clear of this virus? Thank you.
Edward W. Hook M.D.
Edward W. Hook M.D.
51 months ago

Welcome to the Forum.  I hope I can help you.  Your situation is a difficult one to interpret and I hope that by sharing our perspective on HPV infections with you I can provide a perspective which you will find helpful.  Part of the current problem that you have is that you do not know if the lesions you describe were warts are not and now that they have been frozen you will never know- that they turned white with freezing is not a unique identifying characteristic of warts and there are many genital lesions which can (and are) mistaken for warts. In your case, seven months is a rather long time for warts to recur.  Equally and more importantly, we urge our patients to try not to worry about warts and/or HPV infections.  Virtually all sexually active persons with get HPV at some time in their lives, even those who are monogamous and they are neither a sign of infidelity nor a major health risk as long was women follow screening recommendations and men seek evaluation of lesions should they appear.  Nearly all visible warts are merely a nuisance.  The same biological characteristics which make them so widespread make them sometimes challenging to get rid of. 

From my perspective it is not clear that what you had recently treated was HPV and, if it was, there is no clear reason for concern for you or your partner going forward.  I hope you find this perspective helpful.  Perhaps I missed something in terms of timeline or concerns and if so, please feel free to clarify things in one of your two allotted follow-ups.  EWH

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51 months ago
No Dr Hook,you got the timeline right. I had a wart frozen off in January 2015. Told my partner,who i am in a long distance relationship with,and we had sex over a weekend in July 2015. Have not had full sex since,mainly because of my caution. As said,she hasn't developed anything as yet. I was told my hpv was probably a recurrence of an old infection though i had seen nothing before. We were discussing having full sex again but i was taken aback last month. I must admit from what I have seen/read of GW what i got didn't look to me like them. i.e. no cauliflower appearance/clusters etc. Was a little surprised that the people at the clinic weren't altogether sure.  At the moment i think we may leave it for another 6 months to be on the safe side. I am checking myself on a regular basis and its getting me down somewhat. 
A question i would like to ask is first and foremost are warts more likely to be passed on to a partner when they are present? Possibly theres no hard and fast answer to this but i appreciate your expertise and any advice/comments you could make. Thanks in anticipation Dr. 
Edward W. Hook M.D.
Edward W. Hook M.D.
51 months ago

I appreciate your caution but suspect that it is not necessary. Sometimes (unfortunately from my perspective) clinicians take a "better safe than sorry" approach to things like your skin lesions, not considering the potential impact on relationships.  There are virtually no long term consequences even if your partner did happen to become infected through exposure you (or entered the relationship with the infection). 

Regarding your questions about transmission, there are no good data on the biological "efficient" of transmission (that is, what proportion of persons become infected per exposure.  We do know with confidence that there are no STIs, including HPV, that are transmitted even most of the time following a single sexual encounter.  In you case, I would also remind you that all available data suggest that correct and consistent condom use substantially reduce the risk for HPV transmission.  As I said, were I you, I wouldn't be too worried although Ican understand if you choose to use condoms for the immediate future.  EWH

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51 months ago
Thanks very much Dr Hook.