STDs / STIs Community
39k Members
Avatar universal

HPV: how to proceed?

Hi all. Ideally this question would be best answered by a medical professional - but I'm open to comment from all sides :-)

I'm a 50 year old male based in the UK and separated from my wife of 23 years last year. A year ago I started dating a girl (that I'm still with). Some months after we started going out, she found out that she has high risk HPV on her cervix following a number of irregular PAP smears. Initially, HPV wasn't mentioned at all. Here in the UK it only started to be routinely tested for about six months ago in our geographical region. Initially she was merely told that the cause could be 'viral' so she was blissfully unaware she had it.

Our relationship developed sexually and we started to enjoy full penetrative and oral sex totally ignorant of what was going on. I even got myself checked out for all the other STDs and was clean.  I actually though I was being responsible by doing this! .

So the chances are that I have the virus now, but once we learned that we probably both have it,we decided to continue with our sexual activity. We believe(d) that once we'd exposed each other to the virus, you couldn't catch it 'twice'. But I've been thinking a lot about this lately - the best way to proceed for both of us..

So that's my question: are we hampering our chances of getting rid of the virus naturally by continuing to have unprotected penetrative and oral sex - or can HPV not be 'ping-ponged' between two people? If for example my immune system is getting rid of the virus and I perform oral sex on my girlfriend, am I effectively wiping out all the good work that's been done and essentially reinfecting myself?

Thanks for any help you can offer.
5 Responses
3149845 tn?1506631371
Hi, HPV is not a virus like herpes that enters the bodys system but is a topical skin virus that is contracted by direct contact to a wart. If the wart is removed it will not come back till exposure again. Its like the simple finger warts you got as a child.
Avatar universal
There's conflicting information on this: some believe that once you're infected, partners don't bounce the virus to and fro between each other ie. once your body builds up an immunity it wards off future infections OF THE SAME STRAIN OF HPV.

I think what you're saying is the opposite to this - that if I continue giving my girlfriend oral sex, I'll spend the rest of my life re-infecting myself again and again.

I really don't know what's true. Some input from a medical professional would be gratefully appreciated here!
Avatar universal
New HPV infections are very rare at your age (there's a reason HPV vaccines are not recommended over age 26); and if you were to be infected, you would probably never know it. This isn't worth a moment of worry.
Avatar universal
Thanks but I'd still like some informed medical opinion on whether the same strain of HPV can be ping ponged between partners and if continued sexual activity can potentially re-infect those individuals and reduce the chance of getting rid of the virus?
Avatar universal
Don't confuse "conflicting information" about couples reinfecting each other with HPV (anybody can write anything on the web) with "conflicting data", which do not exist in reported research studies.

Two basic types of study have been done.  One looks at new infections in young people and follows them for a few years as the infections clear up and afterward. In the next 2-3 years she or he does not acquire new infections with the same type that previously cleared up, even though they are repeatedly reexposed to it.  In the second type, when a monogaomous woman has HPV diagnosed by pap smear, HPV is usually cannot be found in her partner/husband even though they've been having regular unrotected sex for years.  That's becuase for the most part he was infected years previously with that strain, his immune system cleared it up long ago, and he is now immune to catching it again despite frequent sex with his wife has an active infection.

You can also trust my comment above about the importance of age in determining HPV risk. New infections are rare at your age.

Life is full of important risks. In your situation, HPV is not one of them. Trust it, believe it, and move on with your life.
Have an Answer?
Didn't find the answer you were looking for?
Ask a question
Popular Resources
Here are 16 facts you need to know to protect yourself from contracting or spreading a sexually transmitted disease.
How do you keep things safer between the sheets? We explore your options.
Can HIV be transmitted through this sexual activity? Dr. Jose Gonzalez-Garcia answers this commonly-asked question.
A breakthrough study discovers how to reduce risk of HIV transmission by 95 percent.
Dr. Jose Gonzalez-Garcia provides insight to the most commonly asked question about the transfer of HIV between partners.
The warning signs of HIV may not be what you think. Our HIV and STD expert Sean Cummings reports in-depth on the HIV "Triad" and other early symptoms of this disease.