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HPV risk from massage happy endings
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The STD Forum is intended only for questions and support pertaining to sexually transmitted diseases other than HIV/AIDS, including chlamydia, gonorrhea, syphilis, human papillomavirus, genital warts, trichomonas, other vaginal infections, nongonoccal urethritis (NGU), cervicitis, molluscum contagiosum, chancroid, and pelvic inflammatory disease (PID). All questions will be answered by H. Hunter Handsfield, M.D. or Edward W Hook, MD.

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HPV risk from massage happy endings

Dear Doctor,

Thanks for all your work. I allowed a stupid thing to happen a few years ago during a hotel spa massage, allowing the masseuse to use her hand on my penis. Not a very happy ending. While it was completely wrong of me for this to happen, I didn�t realize at the time that there was any STD risk. However, recently I read about HPV, and read that, though extremely rare, there are some reports of hand-genital transmission of HPV, and this has caused me great anxiety.

Is this true? If so, any idea how rare?

If so, does this happen when the hand acts as the transport for the virus (the woman touches her genitals, and then touches the penis with the same hand)? Or, can a genital HPV virus actually reside on the hands and get transferred to the penis? Most of the information about hand-to-genital doesn't seem to be clear on this issue.

My wife doesn't deserve this at all and I don't want to put her at risk. At the same time I don't want to blow what has otherwise been a fantastic and monogamous marriage. I really love her and talking to her about this would cause her deep pain.

I don't know if this matters, but I had genital warts many years ago. I am unaware if I had or continue to have any other HPV types.

Before I make a life altering decision (talking to my wife about this), I'd like to get your advice. Thank you.
239123_tn?1267651214
Welcome to the forum.

Some questions can be answered accurately based only on the information in the title. HPV is rarely if ever transmitted by hand-genital contact, and probably infrequently by oral-genital contact.  A "happy ending" to a massage carries no risk for HPV.

Now I have read the question itself.  The "reports" of hand-genital transmission amount to nothing more than statements by infected persons that they think they were infected that way.  That sort of testimony is very unreliable and can be ignored.  Since we don't know that such transmission occurs at all, I won't participate in speculation about possible mechanisms, i.e. actual infection of hands versus passive transfer of virus from the genitals, anal area, etc.

Beyond that, you are asking some of the most basic questions about genital HPV, and it could take me an hour of writing which still might not answer all your concerns.  Instead, I suggest you do some research about it.  Start with the thread below -- which also contains links to other discussions.  Also read the excellent information provided by the American Sexual Health Association (www.ashasexualhealth.org) and CDC (www.cdc.gov/std).

As you will see, the bottom line is that getting and having genital HPV is normal, including infection with the high risk types that can lead to cancer.  However, even with such infections, the large majority do not lead to cancer; and even then, with proper medical care, cervical and other genital cancers rarely are dangerous -- i.e. they are easily cured before they become serious.

In any case, definitely don't worry about hand-genital or oral-genital contact and HPV.  If and when you have future HPV infections (in addition to the one that caused your genital warts), it will be from sexual intercourse.

Best wishes--  HHH, MD
5 Comments
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Avatar_m_tn
Thank you Doctor, for your prompt response.  I can breath again and assume I can enjoy  sex again with my loving wife without fear that my errant massage behavior (as opposed to my past HPV/genital warts, which she is aware of) put her at any risk.  I have stopped the errant behavior; I want to let this go, put it behind me, and go forward.  So again, Doctor, my thanks.    
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239123_tn?1267651214
Yes, you can continue unprotected sex with your wife without fear of HPV or any other STD from your massage experiences.
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Avatar_m_tn
Doctor, you may have gotten this entry twice, because I had a little bit of "user error" in using the site.  If so, my apologies. In any case, I have followed up on the links you suggested and they were very helpful.  In addition, though, I ran across another post you made in 2009 in response to a question about HPV transmission.  Whereas your response to me was pretty emphatic and comforting ("A "happy ending" to a massage carries no risk for HPV") this response (http://www.medhelp.org/posts/STDs/HPV-transmission-mode/show/793550) suggested more of a possibility of this type of transmission.  Can you clarify the difference in tone?  Has your medical opinion changed since 2009 and if so, for what reason?  I know I am being a bit of a nit-picker here, but I just want to get the most accurate assessement possible, from an acknowledged expert like yourself.  Should my "worry meter" move up, or should I continue to try to let go of this and move on with my life and the life of my family?  Thanks
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239123_tn?1267651214
There is no conflict between my reply to you and in that other thread.  The other question was worded in a way that I answered in more detail than usual, that's all.  The point is that if hand-genital contact spreads HPV, it happens very rarely.

I would also add that it is pointless to worry about HPV.  Everybody gets it, you may have had it already or will in the future, and same for your wife or other partners.  Most infections never cause symptoms.  There's no point in worrying about it.  So even if there is slight risk from hand-genital contact, it really doesn't matter.  See the thread linked below, and the several others linked in that one:

http://www.medhelp.org/posts/STDs/HPV-concerns/show/1819004
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