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Personal Perspectives

We're still trying to understand how this happened

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Less than one week ago my husband asked me to look at something! He was having some rectal bleeding off and on for about a month, the first time I check I didn't see anything but about one month later I checked again and saw what I thought was skin tags.

Right away I went online and found that it might be anal warts! So the next day we went to the doctor and he confirmed it, anal warts, and proceed to treat by freezing the warts. He also told my husband how he caught HPV, through direct contact with someone who has the virus. My husband reacted with disbelief and shock, and we are still trying to cope /understand how this has happened to us (him). We have been married for 23 years with no other sex partners in our marriage. The doctor is doing some more tests, but he really thinks my husband has HPV and anal warts.

 

At first I wondered did he go outside of the marriage, then we sat down and had a long talk, that is when I realized he really didn't know anything about HPV or warts. My husband is still stunned that he has this, he is trying to think how else could he of caught this like a public restroom, but all the research says NO!

--Submitted by a website visitor

Anal warts are sometimes detected in those with no history of anal sex, but the exact route of transmission isn’t well defined. While most cases probably result from receptive anal intercourse, it’s possible that digital insertion poses a risk for HPV transmission. In terms of introducing HPV into the rectum via fingers, the risks may be more likely when warts are actually present at, or very near, the anus. The close proximity of a lesion (which is a reservoir of relatively large quantities of virus) may allow for the rectum to be exposed to infected skin cells by digital insertion, or perhaps through activities related to hygiene (such as wiping or cleaning). Also, perianal warts can develop from genital to anal contact without penetration, such as during sexual foreplay. --ed.

 

I wasn't prepared to hear my diagnosis

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At 23 I was experiencing my first real heart break when I went in for my regular Pap test. Like most women I wasn’t prepared to hear “Your test came back abnormal and you’ll need to see a specialist”. The doctor I was referred to couldn’t see me for a colposcopy for two extremely long months.

At the new clinic, the nurse brought me back into the exam room, asked a few standard questions, then gave me a brochure on HPV. I was so confused and in shock: How can this be happening to me? The nurse said the doctor would explain more (I was hoping so, because I needed more than a brochure!). I have an amazing doctor. She was extremely informative and showed me the small area of the cervix that’s affected. She said the results would be back in a couple weeks and that most cases of HPV will clear within two years.

The nurse called me a little more than a week later to say I had precancerous cells due to “high risk” HPV. All I could do was cry. I’ve had my repeat Paps every 6 months with no change for 2 years. This past year I had my follow up colposcopy. I was hoping this time my results would be normal and that this would be over. Sadly it looks like I’m not one of the typical women that it clears up in two years. I’m still on “high risk” protocol and have exams every 6 months. I did have the Gardasil® vaccine to be protected against other types of HPV.

I promote and try and convince every young female I meet to get the vaccine and get her Paps. This website is a great place for women dealing with HPV.

--Submitted by a visitor to ASHAstd.org

 

Genital Warts, Relationships, and Self-esteem.

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About a year and a half ago I was diagnosed with low-risk HPV and I had visible genital warts. Luckily, I finally got brave enough to go to the doctor and was put on a prescription cream that made the warts go away. I read up on genital warts and started doing all I could to boost my immune system. I quit smoking and started taking vitamins. A little over a year later I haven't had another episode of warts. So here is to hoping that it never comes back!

Now, just a note on the relationship side of dealing with genital warts: Since I've been clear of the warts I've had two partners and neither of them are showing any signs. I know this doesn't mean that they are HPV free, since it is so common and there is no guarantee that my body has cleared itself of the virus, but I do take it as a good sign. HPV isn't the end of our social or sex life. I was pretty depressed after finding out that I had HPV, but from reading posts from other people with the virus and learning more about it I've learned to deal with it. I told close friends that I had it in order to deal with it and I also told a few prospective lovers and current ones. The ones that truly had feelings for me accepted it and accepted me. They asked questions about it and I explained it as best I could and gave them resources so they could learn more about it.

All in all I just wanted to write this and hope it helps some people. Don't let HPV ruin your life. Always keep in mind that HPV is a very common STD and most people have already had it. Their immune systems just fought it off better, where ours couldn't.

--Email to the HPV Resource Center

 

Dealing with Genital Warts

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From a visitor to ASHA’s HPV Message Board. Join the conversation online: ASHA's Message Board.

Here goes nothing... I'm a 25 year old male diagnosed with genital warts last fall. I, to put it bluntly, was shocked. I was uncircumcised, and the warts were small tabs of skin that formed a circle on the foreskin itself. After consulting with my general health physician and a urologist, I was advised the best course of action would be a circumcision. I underwent the procedure (And yeah, I totally understand why they do it to babies now) and presto-chango, no more warts.

I've had no more warts since then, taking a daily multivitamin and just trying to be healthy. However, recently I noticed three small bumps along the line of scar tissue where my foreskin had been removed. Given that they look nothing like the previous warts I had, I didn’t know if they're more of the same or something different. I went to the urologist today, and apparently the new small flaps could either be skin flaps due to the healing from the circumcision...or new warts. I got a prescription for Condylox, in a gel form, and I'm supposed to use it for 4 weeks before I go back to see the doctor again.

I guess my main question would be related to that -- once you get them, do genital warts always look the same? I had Planter's Warts on my feet as a child, and they always looked the same. Would the appearance really change?

I'm dealing rather well, actually. It happened, and nothing I can do -- no hand-wringing, or self-beating, or whatever -- will allow me to go back in time and do something differently. In terms of "clearing the virus," my urologist said most people do so over time, usually in a matter of months. I'm a very pro-active person, and I believe that an individual can choose the make the best out of a situation or allow the situation to control them. In other words: you can let the river's current take you where it wants, or you can climb out and redirect that #%^&* to where you want it, LOL!

I have a girlfriend who I'm seriously considering marrying -- we've been open about it from the start, and since the types of HPV that cause warts are typically low-risk we're both just taking precautions. Condoms for sure, along with her regular check-ups. We both decided that we care too much about each other to let something small drive one of us away.

--Thanks for sharing your story. Warts can have a variety of appearances: large or small, flat or raised, skin color or somewhat whitish or reddish, rough or smooth in texture. There can be a single lesion, or multiple warts. A recurrence doesn't have to be identical in appearance to an initial episode. Recurrences aren't uncommon, especially in the first three months following treatment. The immune system usually clears the underlying HPV infection eventually, typically in 6-24 months. Healthy lifestyle stuff might include not smoking (a big thing with HPV) and, really, common sense in terms of rest, stress, diet, etc. What you'd do for general good health, really. Whatever you do, avoid the many "snake oil" cures for warts/HPV on the Internet. Not a single one of them should be taken seriously- ed.

 

All I want is to get better

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I’ve seen the commercials about an HPV vaccine and thought, "Wow, a sign of aging! Here they have a vaccine and I am outside of the recommended age range" (I am 28). I made a mental note to ask my doctor, at my next screening, if I could still have the vaccine. I had just had a Pap test three months prior and thought it odd I didn’t receive a post card saying everything’s okay, but was not too worried about following up since I am in a monogamous relationship and my last Pap was clear.

Sound familiar?

I have always gotten annual Paps, researched diseases, been in monogamous relationships, discussed sexual history and even been tested with partners before having sex without a condom. None of these things guarantee protection against HPV, of course. It turns out my Pap was slightly abnormal and I had another yeast infection. At this time I was treated for the yeast infection and told that everything was fine, not to worry about the slightly abnormal pap. I struggled for a year with monthly yeast infections. Every health professional telling me not to worry, anything can cause them. I insisted I was not prone to infections, that something was wrong.

Finally, I switched to an ob-gyn. Some people say they would rather have doctors that do not deal with pregnant women, others disagree. Just research your doctors as much as you can. I don’t know for sure if I have HPV, but the Pap suggested that I do. Next, I’m going for a colposcopy. I cried when they told me about the procedure. I was scared and tired of dealing with this. But whatever it turns out to be, all I want is to get better. Your site gives me hope and understanding to feel like I can.

--Submitted by a visitor to ASHAstd.org. Send your story to This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

 
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