If you’ve recently been diagnosed with HPV, it’s important to first take a deep breath! While HPV may sound scary, it’s actually fairly common. Experts estimate that about 80 percent of adults in the United States will eventually get HPV during their lives.
But if you test positive for a high-risk strain of HPV, it does mean there is potential risk in developing cervical cancer, which should be monitored.
Talk to Your Doctor
To ease your fears, have a long conversation with your doctor about what your HPV test means. Do you have precancerous lesions? Will you need a colposcopy to rule out the possibility of cancer?
Your doctor will ask you a few questions. For example, they may ask more detailed questions about your sexual habits to determine where you got the infection from. If you’ve had a new sexual partner since your last HPV test, your doctor may conclude that might be how you got infected.
Prepare for a Colposcopy
For most women diagnosed with HPV, the next step is a colposcopy. During this procedure, your gynecologist will insert a small magnifying lens inside your cervix to examine the tissues and see if anything looks abnormal.
Your doctor may also take a few tissue samples for further investigation, a procedure known as a biopsy. The cells taken during the biopsy will be investigated to determine if they are cancerous.
Overall, the procedure should take between five and 10 minutes and will be slightly more uncomfortable than your usual exam simply because you’ll have the speculum in for longer. If a biopsy was performed, you may experience light bleeding. Otherwise, you should be back to normal by the next day.
Be Honest With Your Partner
Breaking the news to your partner that you have HPV is a big deal because, in all likelihood, they have it as well. They may not be thrilled, but they should also visit their doctor. Don’t try to hide your diagnosis; this could lead to conflict later on.
Use Quality Protection
If you have new partners in the future, it’s your responsibility to use quality protection to prevent them from contracting HPV from you. While getting a birth control pill subscription from Nurx is a great way to prevent pregnancy, it won’t protect against HPV. Condoms are the best type of protection to significantly reduce the chance that you’ll pass on the infection.
The good news? Around 90 percent of HPV infections clear up on their own within two years, so you probably won’t be actively infected for long. Nevertheless, stay in touch with your doctor to ensure that you don’t develop cervical cancer in the future.