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Women's Health

HPV - Should I worry?

11/09/2006

Question:

I contracted HPV over 11 years ago and was treated many times during a few months fighting the genital warts. After laser surgery, I did not have any more problems. I told my husband before we were married and we have been together 7 years. We now have a 2 year old and a 4 month old. In 11 years I have had not had an outbreak or problem with it, and assumed that unless I had sexual contact with someone with HPV that I probably would never get it again. After the birth of my son, the 4 month old, I had an outbreak and was scared that my husband had cheated on me. My doctor said that sometimes it can come back, even after such a long period of time, but I still worried. He also said that after having the second baby and breastfeeding, my immune system was probably at an all time low, and that I shouldn`t leave my husband. We have a good relationship and love each other very much but I want to know that what my doc is telling me is true. It just seems so odd to not have to deal with the HPV warts for so long and then all the sudden "it`s back". I was treated and the warts are gone again but can you tell me if what I experienced is normal, or was the HPV contracted again from someone else?

Answer:

HPV is a virus, and once you have it, you ALWAYS have it, even though it's not obvious, even for a LONG time.  After pregnancy, and two pregnancies in about two years, your body may be stressed enough that the HPV reappeared. It is probably not related to your husband, though he should be checked and treated, just as you were--since the two of you can pass it back and forth.

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Response by:

Linda A Bernhard, PhD, RN Linda A Bernhard, PhD, RN
Associate Professor Emeritus
College of Nursing
The Ohio State University