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genital warts ar gone; ok to have unprotected sex in future monogamous relationships

Hi Doctor,

I have recently had an outbreak of genital warts.  I am not concerned that they will go away; at this point I have been reassured that within relatively little time they will be cured and I am receiving treatment for them. However, I am concerned about my future sex life.  These may seem like idiotic questions with obvious answers, but I would rather ask a doctor than make my own assumptions:

1.  If I begin a monogamous relationship after 6-12th months of being wart-free/"clear," is it ok to have sex with my future partner without a condom (if she is on the pill)?  
2. I have read some of your other posts--which were very informative and reassuring--but I'm curious about what the ethics might be in this particular situation. Any advice?
3. Can you say how much higher the risk of a recurrence of genital warts might be for me should my future partner and I choose to have unprotected sex? How much higher might the risk of developing genital warts be for her?
4. Am I at a higher risk for contracting a different strain of HPV from a future partner because of my current infection?
5.  What is the likelihood that my warts will return? Like I said before, I know they will be cured, but I am wondering about how statistically likely it is that they will return.  I seem to have a particularly rapidly-spreading virus.  I have about fifty small bumps. Does that effect the likelihood?

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239123 tn?1267651214
Welcome to the forum.  Thanks for your questions.  I'll go direclty too them.  (They are not at all "idiotic"!)

1) Yes.  Six months or more after genital warts have been treated, and have not recurred, it is unlikely you are infectious.  You can safely have unprotected sex.  That said, this isn't a guarantee:  HPV is sneaky and it is possible you are infectious.  However, the risk can be reduced if your partner is vaccinated with Gardasil, which protects against 4 of the most troublesome types of HPV, including the two types that cause most genital warts.

2) Since the transmission risk is low, most experts would agree that from an ethical standpoint you don't need to inform new partners of your past genital warts.  However, from the standpoint of a mutually trusting sexual relationship, you still might decide to discuss it with your partner(s).

3) I'm not sure I understand this one.  Higher than what?  As discussed above, the risk of transsmission is low, but not zero.

4) No.  There is no reason to suppose you are at increased risk of infection with HPV in the future.  

5) There are no good data on the likelihood your warts will return in the future.  Based on my personal experience, I'm confident there's less than a 10% chance, and maybe as low as 1%.

There is no such thing as a "rapidly spreading" strain of HPV.  Having as many as 50 genital warts is unusual, and i doubt that most of the "skin bumps" you have noticed are warts.  However, if in doubt, of course this is something to be addressed by the doctor or clinic where your warts were diagnosed and treated.

Best regards--  HHH, MD
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