It's also important to read up on the difference between an abnormal Pap test and cervical cancer -they are by no means the same - although they are closely linked. Just because you have an abnormal Pap doesn't mean you have cancer. Talk to your partner about this (and also, educate yourself) on how untreated precancerous cells may turn into cancer, but most likely will not.
Dealing With HPV in Your Relationship
When it comes to talking about - and dealing with - HPV in your relationship, the most important things to do are:
- Support one another
- Avoid blaming each other
- Don't jump to conclusions about whether your partner has been faithful
- Be emotionally present and available
HPV in New Relationships
Now, let's say you're single right now, or not seeing anyone particular partner: is it necessary to inform your future partner or a future conquest of your HPV?
Well, yes. HPV transfers very easily from person to person. While some doctor's say that it's totally fine to keep HPV history a secret from a future partner, it probably isn't the ethical thing to do. Since condoms don't necessarily protect you from contracting HPV, and most women eventually have the virus, it's definitely a good idea to discuss a "what if" situation with someone you are dating.
In contrast, Babb says, "Since most strands of HPV are transmitted through skin-to-skin contact (and therefore, sexually), it's very important to talk about your current HPV status with potential partners prior to the onset of sexual activity. In addition, being upfront with your partner from the start about current HPV infections (or any sexually transmitted infections) can help build trust in a relationship."
If the shame of HPV is keeping you from telling a partner, it's time to eradicate the myth that STIs make you "dirty." Jen Doll wrote on the Village Voice that, "No one wants to admit it, no one talks about it, and when people do, it's in whispers and there's a lot of misinformation. But what if you knew that almost everyone you knew had at one point had (or currently has) HPV? Would you feel less ashamed? If all of us have had it, and all of us admit it, doesn't it take the shame out of it?"
To move forward, just remember that both you and your partner(s) need to keep a safe and healthy diet and lifestyle. Moreover, if you're sexually active and haven't been infected, consider getting the HPV vaccine. Keep that in mind and seek out preventative measures when sexually active. Refrain from smoking, and make sure to eat well and stay active - the healthier you are, the less likely you are to have serious repercussions from HPV if you do contract it.
This month is STI Awareness Month. So, let's celebrate by talking about one of the most common STIs with our partners.