Avatar universal

Worried about hpv and transmission

Hello Dr.

A brief explanation to my situation; Mid June I had a sexual encounter with my girlfriend. This did not involve penetration, but it did involve oral sex, as well as "grinding" ( I had underwear on, she did not). About a month later in the shower I noticed a bump on the shaft of my penis and went to the doctor right away. I was diagnosed with hpv, and had the warts removed, I believe there were 5 of them. This has been a very stressful time for me, as well as my girlfriend who is a virgin. She has an appointment coming up to be seen, but I was wondering if you could offer some professional insight as to the risk of exposure to the virus she encountered from that one intimate act.  I am very worried I exposed her to this virus.. Dealing with having this myself is hard enough as it is.

Also, since I have been treated I have not seen any sign of warts ( its been roughly two months). I have heard so much conflicting information regarding the virus, whether it goes away, or lies in my skin forever able to transmit to any sexual partner I have. What is your opinion on such matter?

Also would having a shower right after the sexual act in June have any affect on the transfer of the virus?

Thank you so much for your time
3 Responses
239123 tn?1267647614
Welcome to the forum.  Thanks for your question.

My first advice is to not overreact.  Nobody wants genital warts, but they should be viewed as a minor inconvenience, not an important health problem.  As you may know, almost all sexually active persons experience one or more genital HPV infections, and up to 25% of all persons have genital warts at one time or another.  The frequency of HPV or warts is poorly correlated with no. of sex partners or other indicators of high or low risk for STDs, so infection does not mark someone as "promiscuous" or otherwise unusual in their sexual lifestyle.

It is very unlikely you acquired your warts from your girlfriend.  As a virgin, it is unlikely she has HPV.  Also, genital warts typically appear 3-12 months after exposure, sometimes as long as two years, and they are rarely transmitted by oral sex or by "grinding" through underwear.  Assuming you have been sexually active in the past, you should look to past encounters as the likely source of your warts.

As for the chance you have infected her, that's also pretty unlikely.  Oral infection with the wart-causing HPV strains (mostly HPV types 6 and 11) is uncommon. (Showering after sex a month ago probably made no diffrence in risk.)  It would make sense for her to keep on the lookout for oral area warts, but I doubt anything will show up.  However, I would recommend she speak with her physician about immunization with Gardasil, the vaccine that effectively prevents infection with HPV 6 and 11, and also with the two types (16, 18) that cause most cervical cancers.

As for your own infection, once warts respond to treatment (or go away on their own), if they do not recur after a few months it is safe to assume the infection is gone and will not be transmitted in the future.  It is true that HPV DNA may persist for life, but usually does not reactivate to cause future disease or transmission.

See the thread linked below, plus others linked in that one, for more detail about all these issues and others related to genital HPV.  In the meantime, don't panic, stay mellow, and don't make this a bigger deal than it is.


Best wishes-- HHH, MD  
Avatar universal
Thank you for your reply,

I understand it is unlikely for this to cause me harm, unless I go on to develop RRP, which is what I am most worried about, more for my girlfriend than myself. Most of my anxiety comes from the probability of her being infected, if I was single and had to deal with this it would be a whole lot easier I would just not concentrate on relationships and focus on other aspects of life. Being in a relationship has made the situation very hard, I am just waiting for her to have her physical and papsmear hoping everything is okay and then, not wanting to infect her, I will have to end things. It was reassuring hearing from you that it was unlikely she was exposed, I guess I will keep my fingers crossed and hope for the best. Again thank you for the reply

Best regards
239123 tn?1267647614
RRP is rare and not a likely outcome for either you or your partner.

Sorry, I still don't accept that "Being in a relationship [should make] the situation very hard."  HPV pops up all the time in committed, monogamous partnerships -- most commonly as an abnormal pap smear, but sometimes in the form of warts or other less common manifestations.  Since there is almost always the potential for either or both partners to have been exposed in the past, most couples deal with the medical problem itself but otherwise don't give it another thought and do just fine.

Anyway, the point isn't to argue about it -- you feel the way you do and you'll have to deal with it.  But the objective/scientific perspective is much more mellow, and I hope you'll be able to come to understand that this really shouldn't be a big deal for you either now or any time in the future.

You are reading content posted in the STDs Forum

Popular Resources
Millions of people are diagnosed with STDs in the U.S. each year.
STDs can't be transmitted by casual contact, like hugging or touching.
Syphilis is an STD that is transmitted by oral, genital and anal sex.
Frequency of HIV testing depends on your risk.
Discharge often isn't normal, and could mean an infection or an STD.
STDs aren't transmitted through clothing. Fabric is a germ barrier.