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How do I know if I still have HPV?

Hi Doctors,

A brief history:
- I had my first abnormal pap smear results in January 2011 (I had accidentally skipped my pap smear in 2010 because I was busy, so I don't know if that would have been abnormal too).
- My doctor found one wart on my cervix November/December 2011 via colposcopy and removed it.
- My follow-up colposcopy in May 2012 showed no warts or anything abnormal.
- I am scheduled for follow-up colposcopies every 6 months from now on.

My questions are:
1. If HPV can be naturally cleared from the body within 2 years, how do I know if I still have genital warts or HPV if I do not show symptoms? I'm antsy and would like to know NOW if my body has cleared the virus or not. I'm not comfortable having sex again unless I know for sure as I don't want to transmit anything to anybody else... and I would rather not have an uncomfortable "talk" if I can avoid it.
2. Hypothetically speaking, if I do not show warts again for the next two years can I trust that my body has cleared the virus or can it reoccur after many years? How long can I be considered to have genital warts despite not showing symptoms?
3. I was vaccinated with Cervarix, and am rather annoyed I wasn't informed that Gardasil is the vaccination that protects against genital warts. To avoid future infection from other strains, could I be vaccinated with Gardasil as well?

I've been experiencing high stress and anxiety over this, and I am perfectly willing to be abstinent for the next few years if it means that I don't infect anybody else and I can avoid telling any future partners about this!

Thank you very much!
2 Responses
Avatar universal
Hi QClady,

As a start, let me tell you that genital warts is not something serious. It is more like a skin disease just that happens on genitals. Most of the cases will not bring any health problems.
You had so far did everything correctly, going to pap smears and got treated in December 2011. And the latest check up was done in May 2012. Almost 6 months after the treatment. It's difficult to tell whether the warts will come back again. Some experts' opinions think that 3 months after treatment, without warts appearance again, it is considered as treated. Some experts think 6 months. So, I would say, yes you are pretty much in the clear.
To your questions:
1. You would not know. The fact is you should continue to do annual pap smears. If no abnormalities found in the pap smears, you are fine. If very unlikely found, get treated. And, I do think 2 years is a reasonable time to eradicate HPV from your body.
2. Yes. In fact, I would like to think you have already eradicate HPV from your body. Even if HPV still exist, they will not likely to pose a risk to your health anymore, probably will not causing genital warts anymore.
3. Cervarix vaccine is to protect against the HPV strains that cause cervical cancer. It does not protect against all strains of HPV. You have got the vaccine, which is actually the right thing to do.
Now, finally, you do not have to avoid sex at all because of the fear of HPV transmission. Practice sex safe. In almost everyone that is active sexually, has HPV or will have HPV sometime in their lives. Some HPV causes genital warts, some just causes nothing. Over time, they will be eradicated from the body. So, it is a fair bet, that your partner or future partner already have HPV.
Here, I attach a link from STDs Expert Forum answered by Dr. Handsfield, which you can refer:
101028 tn?1419606604
discuss with your gyn getting a hpv dna test at some point. That's the best way to know if you've cleared your hpv infection or not.  had they identified your hpv infection as being high risk or low risk?

did they actually see warts on your cervix or did they remove polyps?

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