The HPV Infection: Do I Have It?
But…I’ve never noticed any symptoms so I couldn’t have gotten an HPV infection?
Most strains of HPV are low-risk strains that commonly go by unnoticed. There are a handful a high risk strains of HPV; those are the scary ones that can cause an abnormal pap smear, leading to cancer, most commonly cervical cancer. Some other high risk strains of HPV can also cause oral and genital warts.
. Some other high risk strains of HPV can also cause oral and genital warts.
Why We Need To Talk About HPV
Where do I begin?
Knowing where to start and how to tell your sexual partner can be scary, but guess what? Disclosing your HPV status to your sexual partner can be a supportive and affirmative experience.
By disclosing your HPV status and making yourself vulnerable, it helps to establish trust between you and a partner.
You are actively demonstrating to a partner that you care and value their sexual health as much as your own. It can also help to educate people since HPV is one of the most common sexually transmitted infections and yet there is so much misinformation.
For example, it’s probably the first time you’ve heard of how common HPV infections can really be among sexually active people, but that there are only a few high risk strains.
Do I NEED to inform my partner?
Educating people is one way of actively breaking the stigma associated with sexually transmitted infections, which is crucial to helping people establish safe sex practices, including those around oral sex.
The truth is, HPV is so common that it doesn’t have to be a big deal to tell your partner. Read this article from Self on the importance of having that conversation with your partner, and why you shouldn’t worry.
No matter what happens, take comfort in making brave, compassionate and honest choices.
Tips For Discussing HPV With Your Partner
Here are a few tips from the team at Papillex to help make the conversation more comfortable for you:
Have the conversation early in your relationship or before any type of sexual contact.
Get to know someone and make sure you feel safe and confident when you have this conversation. Showing your sexual partner how calm and confident you are will also help assure them that you are well informed. Choose the timeline that you are most comfortable with, and make sure your partner is someone you feel comfortable sharing your personal details.
Choose a place that is private and comfortable.
The physical space you are in can make you feel either safe or uneasy. Check in with yourself, make note of how you feel, and act accordingly. This could be while taking a hike or walk together, or while making dinner at your home. It’s best to talk about your HPV infection status when you are in a private, quiet space that makes you feel safe.
Your partner might have a lot of questions and this is your opportunity to educate them.
- types of HPV
- Pap tests
- Why most strains won’t lead to cancer
Anticipate their questions so you can answer them in an informative way. There are TONS of resources available for education, including the CDC, Healthline, Sex & U, and many more. Our blogs are also a great source of information! Know the information backwards, forwards, and sideways. Preparing this way will also increase your confidence for this conversation.
4. Set the tone
By sharing this information in a calm, reassuring, and educational manner, you will set the tone for the conversation.
Listen to your partner and observe their response. Answer their questions as best you can, and know that if you exhibit compassion, it’s likely they will too. If you educate yourself about the topic well enough, and display complete honesty with your partner, it sets a tone that you know there doesn’t need to be excessive worrying. Understand when it is beyond your capabilities and accept those boundaries.
5. Honor yourself
No matter how the conversation goes, you should know you did something that took bravery and honesty.Many people do not take initiative in their sexually transmitted infection status, or are scared to share it. By doing so, you are helping others make informed choices about their health. Give yourself a tap on the back for being brave enough to make this decision. With each person that educates their partner, the risk for HPV transmission decreases.