The sexually transmitted disease human papillomavirus (HPV) is more common than you might think. Statistics show that 1 out of 4 Americans now have HPV, making it the most common sexually transmitted disease. It is difficult to deal with the disease, and the lack of clear counseling messages can put you in serious stress.
Should I Tell My Partner I Have HPV?
Yes, you should. It is a very common disease, and it is important that you tell your partner about it, so that you could find a better way to deal with it together. Understand that many strains of the virus are not that dangerous and do not cause any symptoms as well. Still, it is important to convey the information to your partner to avoid living with the guilt.
1. They Can Be Dangerous
There're many strains of HPV. While some of them are harmless, some are dangerous, especially Type 6 and 11 that can cause genital warts. If you have these raised bumps, you can infect your partner as well. There are other types as well, such as Type 16 and 18 that can cause cancer of the anus, penis, vulva vagina, neck, and head.
If you do not have cancerous HPV, you usually do not need to worry a lot, as the infection may not cause any symptoms and even go away on its own. Nevertheless, it makes sense to inform your partner about it because you can pass it on to subsequent partners, and they may eventually develop cancer. Should I tell my partner I have HPV? Yes, you should, and there're more reasons for that:
2. Safe Sex Is Not Always Going to Work
If you think there is no need to tell your partner about your infection because you always follow safe sex practices, you are wrong. You can transfer HPV to your partner through skin-to-skin contact, which is why barriers like condoms and dental dams are not going to prove 100% effective. Barrier methods are effective against certain types of STDs, such as gonorrhea or syphilis, but they will not help in case of HPV, especially if you have specific type of HPV infection. It is better to inform your partner so they could get vaccinated, which significantly lowers their risk of getting HPV.
3. Men Cannot Get Tested for HPV
What it means is that if you have HPV and you sleep with your partner, he will never be able to confirm if he has already contracted the virus, unless of course the virus causes genital warts. Even if you do not have cancer, it does not mean your partner will not have it. Therefore, you need to inform him about your condition, especially if you have one of the higher-risk HPV strains.
What to Say and How
Should I tell my partner I have HPV? Of course, you should, but it is important to keep a few things in mind to make your conversations easier.
1. Learn More about the Infection
Before you even decide to touch the topic and talk to your partner, you should educate yourself about HPV as much as you can. Your partner is likely to have many questions about the disease, and it is better if you could clear those concerns right away. Knowledge about HPV will also help you cope with your condition in a better way. Be sure to find factual details and avoid myths.
2. Know That It Is Not Your Fault
Under no circumstances should you be blaming yourself for the infection. You have not done anything wrong, especially considering the fact that most sexually active people have to deal with the infection at some point. Many may already have it without their knowledge, as not all strains produce symptoms. Keep in mind that becoming infected is never a reflection on you, your values, or your character, so do not try to make your conversations with your partner look like making a confession. You just have to inform them for their safety only. It is also possible that you have acquired it from your partner who may have a strain that produces no visible symptoms.
3. Know about HPV Latency
Knowledge about HPV latency will help make conversations easier, as it is never easy to tell exactly when you were exposed to HPV. You might have been exposed to HPV weeks ago or it might have infected you years ago. Symptoms could take years to develop, which is why a recent diagnosis does not always mean someone has been unfaithful.
4. Understand the Medical Impact
You should educate yourself about the medical risks of HPV. Never overlook those risks, but that does not mean that everyone having the infection will end up developing serious complications. If you do not have a high-risk strain, be sure to tell your partner about it.
5. Select the Right Time to Talk
Do not just break the news when your partner is no position to take any surprises. Choose a time when both of you are free and there is nothing to distract you. What you have learned about the infection will help answer your partner's question, but if you feel nervous, you can ask your partner to come with you at your next doctor's appointment. Your doctor can also help explain the medical impact and make it easier for both of you to get to a decision.
6. Decide about Your Future
There is absolutely no reason to end your relationship when your partner has been diagnosed with HPV. If you have HPV and your partner is upset, just tell them that you have not done anything wrong. Do not get upset if they do not react the way you have expected. Tell them that your symptoms are treatable and you two can stay in the relationship for years to come. Just be open about your concerns and expectation to help live a healthy, normal life.