How Will HPV Affect my Relationship/s?
The emotional impact of an STI and finding out that you or your partner has been infected can sometimes be worse than the actual infection. It’s really important to gain some perspective about an STI diagnosis before any assumptions are made – and this is especially true with HPV.
Remember that 80% of unvaccinated adults will pick up HPV at some point in their life. As most HPV is invisible, partners will inevitably share it, and there is no way to know which partner it came from or when they got it.
What Should I Tell my Partner about My HPV?
Partners will inevitably share HPV. This is normal. In new relationships safe sex best advice, includes using condoms to provide some protection against HPV and offer good protection from many other sexually transmitted infections.
What about Future Sexual Partners?
It is not clear if there is any health benefit to informing (future) partners about a past diagnosis of genital HPV or warts. This is because it is not known how long the virus remains and for most people, the virus is either suppressed or cleared by the immune system.
Remember that HPV is so common most people who have not had the HPV vaccination will at some point have a genital HPV infection, but because it is mostly invisible, it will never be diagnosed.
With any new sex partner best advice, condoms are important. Whilst condoms may not fully protect your partner from HPV, they do protect both of you from other sexually transmitted infections. For couples in long-term monogamous relationships, condoms are probably of little value in preventing HPV infections as partners will inevitably share HPV.
Is Safe Sex Possible With HPV?
Are you wondering, “Can I have sex with HPV?” Because HPV is common and most infections clear on their own without causing any health effects, it’s generally safe to keep having sex as long as you take the necessary safe sex precautions.
However, you should talk to your healthcare provider first if you are newly diagnosed. If you have genital warts, they might recommend waiting to have sex until they clear up to prevent spreading the virus through skin-to-skin contact.
That said, when having sex with HPV, you should still take extra precautions to reduce the risk of transmission before resuming sexual activity. These include telling current and future partners that you have HPV and using condoms or other protection correctly each time you have sex. It’s possible to spread HPV even if you aren’t showing symptoms, and you or your partner can get it without knowing it.
Learn How HPV Spreads
An excellent way to prevent infection is to learn how HPV spreads. Sexually-transmitted HPV can spread through vaginal, anal, and oral sex or close skin-to-skin contact. Even if you use barrier protection and aren’t showing any symptoms, it’s still possible to become infected or spread HPV to a partner.
Talk to Your Healthcare Provider
If you are sexually active or suspect that you might have HPV, you should schedule an appointment to speak with your healthcare provider. They can recommend STI testing options and go over potential treatments if you are experiencing any health effects. Even if you aren’t showing any signs of the virus, your healthcare provider can provide additional information on signs and symptoms and how to reduce the risk of spreading or contracting HPV.
Be Honest with Your Partner
If you’ve been diagnosed with HPV or suspect you have it, informing past and current partners can help them understand the risks and pursue testing and treatment options if necessary. To help avoid confusion and ensure that these conversations go as smoothly as possible, consider doing some research and planning ahead of time.
Schedule Regular HPV and Pap Tests
There are currently no testing options for people AMAB (assigned male at birth) or HPV affecting the mouth and throat. However, there are tests that can detect strains of HPV that could cause cervical cancer and precancerous cells in the cervix.
If you have a cervix, healthcare providers recommend scheduling Pap tests every three years starting at age 21. People ages 30 to 65 who have a cervix can also schedule HPV tests that look for the strains that cause cervical cancer. The procedure for this test is almost identical to a Pap smear, and you can get both tests at the same time. If you choose to co-test and your results come back normal, your healthcare provider may recommend getting tested every five years instead of three.
Most cases of HPV clear on their own without causing any adverse health effects. So, can you have sex with HPV? Yes—as long as you take the proper precautions and communicate with your partner, it’s possible to remain sexually active and have healthy intimate relationships with HPV.