STDs Expert Forum
warts 2 years later. how to proceed?
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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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warts 2 years later. how to proceed?

Dear Drs,

I first contracted genital warts 2 years ago. I had them frozen off, and they were never a problem again, and I was told my body likely cleared itself of the virus. However, before getting physical with new partners I always made sure to tell them I had a history of warts, that they appeared to be gone, and that the risk of passing it on was improbable though not impossible. I didn't have any of my partners tell me since then that they had contracted anything. That being said it's been 2 years and they are back. I should also mention that about 6 months ago I was examined and told that there were no visible warts. My first question is: because they are back, do I need to go back and tell partners of the past they are back??? Even though I gained their consent first? I want to do the right thing, but I also don't want to cause unnecessary stress and fear in these people about something which is actually so common.

My second question involves how to proceed with my current partner. He was informed from the get-go, and knows about this recent outbreak. I do feel immense guilt because I'm sure I have passed it on to him. I also feel guilty for not being so dilligent about examining myself for them. The doctor I saw estimated they may have been a month old, though it's difficult to tell. I thought anything I was looking at was just scar tissue---that is until they got bigger and I knew I had to go get checked out. Maybe I was in denial. My partner is concerned though he has no warts now, he will get them in the future....or at least have the virus and pass it on if we break up. It's hard for him but he says he will stand by me and is being incredibly supportive which is good. If he is to get them when can he expect to see them?

My third question is, what are the chances of getting it again 2 years down the road? I know I'm in the minority. It *****. I should also mention I received the gardasil vaccine after the first outbreak.

Thank you Drs.
Tags: Warts
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239123_tn?1267651214
Welcome to the STD forum

Late recurrences of genital warts are not especially common, but they occur from time to time.  However, if you are sexually active, perhaps you have a new infection, not reappearance of the old one.  Two strains cause 90% of genital warts, HPV-6 and HPV-11; you might have had one of these 2 years ago and the other one now.  Or one infection or the other was caused by some other HPV type.

I see no need to go back to inform past partners about your new diagnosis.  They may not have been at risk; even if they were, the wart-causing HPV strains are not generally a serious health threat; if they were infected, they probably would have developed warts by now, so it's too late anyway; and as noted above, you don't necessarily still have the same original HPV infection anyway.  In my view, any potential benefit of telling them is outweighed by "unnecessary stress and fear...about something which is actually so common" (your words, and I couldn't have said it better myself).

You and your partner can assume he is already infected with the HPV strain causing your current warts; or he has had it and it's now gone.  Depending on when your relationship started, he could even the be source of your current warts.  In any case, there is no reason to change your sexual practices with him,  He will not catch your infection again; people do not "ping pong" HPV infections back and forth.  If your partner develops visible warts, he should see a professional and have them treated.  But otherwise, this is not something to lose sleep over, and for sure you shouldn't let it jeopardize your relationship. Warts are a minor inconvenience, not a serious health threat.

Congratulations on getting Gardasil.  It covers 4 common types of HPV and is highly effective, if you haven't yet been infected with them.

Here are three other threads that discuss partner notification for HPV infection.  You may find the discusions useful.

http://www.medhelp.org/posts/show/763292
http://www.medhelp.org/posts/show/763984
http://www.medhelp.org/posts/show/761416

Best wishes----  HHH, MD
3 Comments
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Thank you Dr HHH,

Based on what you have seen, what is the typical latency period for warts? Like the time one is exposed until the time they see warts? Is it more common for women to see warts than men? Do you know the percentage of men who carry the virus and have physical symptoms?
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239123_tn?1267651214
Remember that the large majority of HPV infections do not cause warts at all; the infections are asymptomatic and remain that way.  Among persons infected with wart-causing HPV strains (primarily HPV types 6 and 11), probably 70-80% develop noticeable warts.  Usually the warts show up 1-4 months after exposure.  I'm not aware of any difference between men and women in whether they notice warts or not.
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