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Genital Warts - short occurrence/future partners

Hi,

Despite getting the Gardasil vaccine several years ago, I was diagnosed with HPV in January and noticed two very small bumps near my vaginal opening at the end of April.  I visited my doctor in early May and she diagnosed me with genital warts and prescribed Imiquimod.  I applied the Imiquimod as instructed and within two weeks of the application, the bumps were gone.  It's been about a month now and I haven't noticed any new bumps.

After doing a lot of reading on this forum and elsewhere, I'm surprised at how quickly my warts disappeared - is that usual?  Could it have been something else?  I stopped the application of Imiquimod once they had disappeared because I didn't want to risk irritating my skin.  Should I have continued it (I had enough for one month of applications)?

Also, most of my concern about having genital warts relates to telling future partners.  I plan to abstain from sex until it has been 6 months without an occurrence, though I still may feel obligated to tell partners I had them at one time.  Do you have any advice on how to tell potential partners?  I feel a certain amount of shame for being diagnosed with them.

Lastly, would it be possible for me to contract genital warts again from a future partner?  Or would it be a reoccurrence of the strand that I already have?  (As I said above, I did receive the Gardasil vaccine which I thought protected against most genital warts).

Thank you for your help!
1 Responses
239123 tn?1267651214
MEDICAL PROFESSIONAL
Welcome to the forum.  Thanks for your question.

There are around 40 types of HPV that primarily infect the genital area and are sexually transmitted. Gardasil protects against 4 of them, including the two that cause about 90% of genital warts and two others responsible for around 70% of cervical cancer.  Against those strains, it is among the most effective vaccines every developed, against any infection.  But most people immunized with Gardasil will still get HPV due to the many other types not covered by the vaccine.  Fewer of them will have problems with warts or with abnormal pap smears, but there will be plenty of exceptions -- as you have experienced.

Clearing of warts after only 2 weeks treatment with imiquimod is a little atypical, but well within the normal range.  You can't make any accurate judgments from online forums, including this one.  Online forums tend to attract people with atypical experiences.

There are no hard and fast rules about disclosure of past HPV infections.  Below are links to two thread that discuss the issue in detail.  In general, I don't think it's necessary.  For every person with diagnosed HPV, there are 10-20 others who have had HPV (and may still have it) -- so informing partners doesn't materially lower the chance they will be infected.  But it's a personal choice that you'll have to make for yourself.

http://www.medhelp.org/posts/show/552283
http://www.medhelp.org/posts/show/1744484

And as for "shame" for being diagnosed for warts, there is simply no shame in it.  Probably 20% of all Americans have diagnosed genital warts at one time or another.

Finally, could you catch HPV again in the future?  Sure.  Is it possible you could have yet another wart-causing infection?  Quite unlikely, but possible.  Getting genital HPV is unavoidable, except in celibates; it's a normal and expected consequence of human sexuality.  And therefore certainly nothing to be ashamed about!

I hope this helps.  Best wishes--  HHH, MD
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