I have been married to the same man for 32 years. In 1988, after 8 years of marriage, I was diagnosed with Trichomonas and we were both treated with Flagyl. In 2004, I was diagnosed with HPV (no warts). I was a virgin when we got married and I have had no other sex partners ever. My husband has assured me repeatedly that he has not had sex with anyone else since we have been married. He had several sex partners before we were married. In my teens, I was told that I was exposed to DES when my mother was pregnant with me. My husband was treated for epiditymitis as a teenager. I have read where both Trichomonas and HPV can lay dormant for long periods of time before showing up on lab tests. He says that these two STD's had to have come from his relationships prior to our marriage. Should I have questioned his fidelity years ago or could this be just an unlucky coincidence?
Welcome to the forum and thanks for your question. I'll try to help, but I'm afraid my answers won't be very satisfying.
Questions like yours have been coming up for many decades, since the sexually transmitted natures of trichomoniasis and, more recently, HPV, were recognized. Before the 1970s, neither genital warts nor trich were understood to be sexually acquired in most cases, so situations like yours were easy to explain without implications for sexual fidelity. Indeed, when first recognized as STDs, one of the main arguments against sexual transmission was that there are so many cases just like yours -- i.e. apparent new infections in people obviously at little or no risk for STDs.
The fact remains that we really don't understand all the details of when and how many HPV infections and trichomoniasis are acquired. Clearly some of them lie dormant for years, then become apparent. And although the large majority of both infections clearly are sexually acquired, it remains possible that some are acquired through other, unknown routes. And while having two apparently new infections at once might seem to have greater implications for a partner's fidelity than only one would, they may interact. Having inflammation from trich might result in reactivation of a latent HPV infection. This a theory, not proved -- but some experts believe it makes sense.
Therefore, the apparance of these problems doesn't necessarily imply your husband has had other partners in recent years. As noted above, cases like yours are not rare. Still, they are STDs and it is reasonable for your suspicions to be aroused. I'm afraid there are no easy answers. It comes down to trust. You know your husband and I do not; it has to be entirely your judgment whether or not he is being truthful. My primary advice is to not assume he has been unfaithful, and if you believe and trust that he has not, then accept these problems as an unpleasant but not very serious surprise, follow your doctor's advice on treatment, then let it go.
I hope this helps a little bit. Best wishes-- HHH, MD
While I take your comments very seriously, there is one misconception in your reply that I would like to address. The HPV was diagnosed 16 years AFTER the Trichomonas was diagnosed so they could not have interacted. Does this change your advice for me in any way?
Thank you for your help!
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