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National Cervical Cancer Coalition

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PostPosted: Sat Apr 04, 2009 3:55 am 

Joined: Sat Apr 04, 2009 2:17 am
Posts: 4
Before I begin, I'd like to thank the owners of this forum for providing such a great resource for those dealing with very personal, and sometimes very painful, issues. I spent quite a lot of time reading generic articles and viewing worst-case photos of genital warts before finding this forum and, both of which provide excellent advice from very qualified people.

I'll start with my sexual history. I'm a 32-year-old male who's had a grand total of 5 partners since the age of 19. Of those relationships, 2 involved unprotected oral sex only, while the other 3 involved long term, monogamous unprotected sex after testing confirmed no diseases were present.

My most recent relationship ended in November of last year. Around September or so, I had a recurring itch just above my penis under the pubic hair. I would occasionally scratch it and think nothing of it. I trim the area to keep it tidy and assumed it was just the irritation that can come with short/growing pubic hair. One day, I decided to take a closer look and found some type of fleshy growth that looked to me like a skin tag. I'm prone to skin tags, cherry moles, and the like, so I thought nothing of it and did what I always do with skin tags--I snipped it off.

A couple months later, I found another one and did the same thing, thinking that it had been there the whole time and I'd simply missed it during my initial examination.

Unfortunately, that last relationship's end was due in part to infidelity by my girlfriend. She assures me it was nothing more than a drunken makeout session at a bar, and I believe her in this regard. She was always the type to take meticulous care of herself and had regular gynecologist visits while we were together. I haven't had this discussion with her yet, but I'm pretty sure that when I ask her if they ever found anything--warts, abnormal pap results, anything--she's going to say no, and that she would've told me if they had. Despite her mistake, I believe her to be a generally honest person.

We tried to reconcile, and during this time we had unprotected oral sex. After we broke up, the infidelity got me thinking about what can be transferred orally, so I started searching online, and it didn't take long before I ended up finding out things about HPV that I never wanted to know. And when I look at some of the pictures of genital warts (the milder cases), they look very similar to what I snipped off.

I know how unlikely oral transmission of HPV is based on what I've read, and it's probably very unlikely that the guy my ex kissed gave her oral HPV, who then gave me genital HPV through oral sex.

That didn't matter, because like many people, I went into full panic mode. I searched my genitals methodically and discovered a couple raised bumps toward the bottom of my shaft that weren't like the other two growths, but definitely weren't Fordyce spots (which I have in abundance and caused me a lot of worry growing up). I applied the well-known white vinegar test, and while they did lighten subtly, so did any Fordyce spot that was nearby. Inconclusive at best. After several brief (10 minute) applications of apple cider vinegar, these bumps have dried up and flaked off, but again, they looked nothing like the previous growths and I'm even starting to think they may have only been responses to minor trimmer accidents. I do nick myself occasionally and it's not unlike my skin to respond with a slight overgrowth. I also find the placement unusual because my entire penis was exposed to 3 different partners over a span of many years, but the most sensitive areas, particularly the glans, are completely free of anything out of the ordinary. Not sure if this matters, but I still find it odd. And having unprotected sex for years brings up the possibility that I've had HPV for a long time and didn't even know.

(continued next post, forum won't let me finish)

 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sat Apr 04, 2009 4:04 am 

Joined: Sat Apr 04, 2009 2:17 am
Posts: 4
After all this foolishness, I sit back with a clearer head and ask myself why I didn't just go to the doctor and have these last couple spots checked out. My head is full of wart worry, but I have no symptoms to present to a doctor for examination. I actually find myself hoping I get another just so I can have it looked at and get a biopsy. It's so weird to be thinking that when many people are suffering with HPV and just want their warts to go away, but not knowing for sure is driving me nuts.

To compound the problem, I've been spending a lot of time recently with an old friend who's potentially interested in becoming more than that, and having all this in the back of my mind is so distracting. How do I even tell her? "I had these growths down there, but instead of having a qualified professional diagnose them, I snipped them off and used vinegar on them. Could be genital warts. Please don't run."

I feel like an idiot.

What do I do now? I considered going to the dermatologist anyway since there might be smaller growths I'm not seeing, despite my thorough self-examinations. I even trimmed away all my pubic hair so I could see clearly. Now I look as stupid as I feel ;)

Where do I go from here?

 Post subject: Re:
PostPosted: Sat Apr 04, 2009 9:10 am 

Joined: Sat Aug 16, 2008 2:50 am
Posts: 109
Hi Right Thing. I'm not our wonderful moderator Fredo, however I am a person who is extremely familiar with panic and daily (if not hourly) checks of ones genitals upon reading something or finding something. I would stop searching the internet and stop using ACV and go in to have a frank discussion with your doctor or dermatologist. They may be able to tell you right away if it sounds like something you even need to concern yourself about. The next time one of those fleshy growths appears, have your doctor examine it.

This is stuff you probably already know, so let's get to what is really bothering you which is the concern about HPV. HPV is incredibly common and almost impossible to avoid. Most sexually active individuals will be exposed to one if not more strains of HPV in their lifetime. The good news is that HPV is not a forever virus, your body's own immune system typically will fight the HPV down to undetectable levels within 2 yrs.

With regards to your oral sex concern, although there are studies now that show head/neck cancer associated to HPV, those are linked to high risk HPV (HPV 16) as opposed to low risk HPV (genital warts) and the numbers of people diagnosed with head/neck cancer are still fairly low. Now, it is still a good idea for a person who has been diagnosed with HPV (high or low risk) to avoid oral sex or use barrier protection until they receive feedback from their doctor that the HPV is at undetectable levels, but since you don't know whether you have HPV or not, this may not even be an issue (again, a talk to your doctor is best).

How to deal with this friend who may become more of a friend? Right now, you don't know you have HPV, so it's really not a topic that needs to be discussed at this point. It is (as Fredo and Betsy would both agree) very important to discuss your sexual history and both get tested prior to becoming intimate. Who knows, you may discover that she has already been exposed to HPV before. You could also discuss her getting the Gardasil shot off label if she is over the age recommendation.

In any event, good luck and let us know how it goes.

 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Apr 08, 2009 12:27 am 

Joined: Sat Apr 04, 2009 2:17 am
Posts: 4
Thanks for your reply. I did a ton of reading before posting here and know the things you say are true, so I've done my best not to get all worked up. I know that when it comes down to it, genital warts are no big deal and if I do in fact have them, my body seems to be doing a great job of dealing with them. Not everyone is so lucky.

Even though I haven't seen a doctor yet, I decided to talk with my ex about it. She didn't seem too bothered by it, having had friends with HPV and knowing how common it is. Basically, she acknowledged it as being her turn to get it and thanked me for telling her, even if it's not a certainty at this point. That conversation actually made me feel a lot better about things.

I'm still a bit nervous about having the talk with the new girl. She's less experienced and has had very few partners, so she might not take it as well. And while a doctor may look at me now and not be able to diagnose HPV due to a lack of current symptoms, I still feel the possibility of it requires me to bring it up even if it might introduce unnecessary worry. I'll keep the vaccine in mind and suggest it if she has concerns.

Fortunately, I've done everything as right as I know how up to this point and don't have anything more serious to talk about with her. I'm thankful for that.

 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Apr 08, 2009 8:46 am 
Site Admin

Joined: Wed Oct 04, 2006 4:08 pm
Posts: 2122
Location: North Carolina
I agree with Very Concerned, I don't think there's any reason to have an HPV conversation with a new partner. No way for us to sort out your symptoms, of course, but I can say it's almost certain there's nothing to worry about re: your ex getting HPV through kissing someone at a bar, then performing oral sex on you. If by some chance you did have warts, that particular sequence of events probably played no role.

Keep in touch and post anytime.


ASHA Moderator

 Post subject:
PostPosted: Thu Apr 09, 2009 8:45 pm 

Joined: Sat Apr 04, 2009 2:17 am
Posts: 4
Thanks guys.

I understand that getting HPV through oral sex after a kiss at a bar is an unlikely scenario. I only brought it up because it's what spurred me to look into possible STIs.

The fact remains that I did have some symptoms that were wart-like, so I'm still mulling over whether or not I should bring it up with future partners. My fear is that I end up in a scenario where she gets symptoms down the line, and I have to look her in the eye and tell her that I had suspicions it could happen and never said anything.

I guess I'll have that talk with my dermatologist and make up my mind then.

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