How to Tell Your Partner You Have HPV
It's not easy telling a new partner you have an infectious disease, especially an STD, but no matter how you look at it, your partner(s) deserve to know. However, you can't just blurt these things out. Follow these guidelines to help you disclose your STD to your partner.
Should I tell my boyfriend I have HPV?
What happens if your doctor's office calls after a routine Pap smear with news like, "The test results came back positive for HPV; the doctor would like to do further tests to determine what type it is?" Worrisome, no? Yes, a bitter pill to swallow. For the most part, you have no one to blame but yourself. You could get mad at your boyfriend and swear reverge is yours, but where will that get you? The dye has already been cast. Besides, only you know for sure (in your heart of hearts) whether this could have been a fluke (and by fluke I mean "unintentional" on your behalf--think date rape), or if you deliberately slept with more than your fair share of suitors, thereby increasing your chances of acquiring a sexually transmitted infection (or disease). Obviously unprotected sex is the leading cause of unwanted pregnancies and STIs / STDs, so it goes without saying how vital it is for all of us to practice safe sex if abstinence is not an "option" shall we say?
How well do you really know your partner? Is he certain he doesn't have an STI from a previous relationship? How long have you been seeing your current partner? Does he want kids? Does he have a criminal record? Is he a known player? These are the things you've got to ask yourself, if not him, before engaging in sexual activity. By now, it's no secret that condoms are not 100% effective at preventing pregnancy (the entire world must have watched that episode of FRIENDS, "The One Where Rachel Tells..."), not to mention the spread of STIs, so it's still a wonder why so many people continue to have unprotected sex or even practice safe sex (given that condoms are only 97% effective) with partners they just met minutes ago!
At any rate, that's the reason so many of us (an estimated 20 million Americans) have HPV today. And the numbers keep growing, despite the introduction of a new drug designed to protect girls against the virus, as it only protects against a few of the "tamer," albeit widespread types of HPV. However, there are 100 different types of HPV, and nothing will guard you against it as well as abstinence. Of course, there are times abstinence isn't an option (at least not a viable one), especially if you're in a committed relationship or you're married. Now, I'm not a stick-in-the-mud, per se, but come on, ladies! Even the loyalist and most devoted boyfriend or husband can't be trusted ... all of the time. There's going to be times when he isn't being completely honest with you about his past, (as it can take HPV several months to several years to present itself), or even now, with you, you never know who he might have on the side. I'm not saying it's a sure thing; I've known many couples who've sworn up and down they've remained faithful all their married lives, but common sense and life experience has taught me never to trust 100%. Sure, you shouldn't judge or jump to any fancy conclusions or suspect your boyfriend or husband at every turn, but granted, there will be times when things aren't going ultra smoothly at home, or you won't be available either physically or emotionally to him, and well...his eye might wander. I hope not, but I know it has happened before, and chances are, it'll happen, again. Bummer, huh?
Given all that, what exactly do you do when faced with such a dilemma (hearing news from your doctor of a possible HPV infection)? Are you obligated to tell your boyfriend (or current partner)? Well, let me see, have you ruled out the possibility that you contracted it from him? Like I said, HPV infection doesn't just happen over night, pardon the pun, so you must think back, at least three months, and ask yourself, did you sleep with someone who might have given it to you? Do you recall noticing warts on the shaft of his "business?" If so, your current heartthrob might be innocent and clean, and you, my good woman, might have inadvertantly passed it on to him. So, in this situation, yes, you are obligated to tell him. It's a question of ethics. Consider how you feel right now, scared and confused, trying to figure out who gave it to you, or knowing who gave it to you, and swearing revenge on the guy. Come a few months from now, your current partner will be faced with the same issue. At least be kind enough to tell him now, and see to it he gets tested; give him the option of leaving you (as sad as it may be), and seeking help or someone else. If you really love the guy you'll let him go, if that's what he chooses to do. After all, you wouldn't want to feel trapped in a relationship you didn't feel comfortable in, yourself, so why not give your partner a fighting chance?
It's also good practice to refrain from any and all sexual activity until you get more tests done to determine what type of HPV you have, and start a course of treatment. Not all types of HPV are cancerous, and even though you might have the one that is cancerous, it might still take years before it effects you, thereby giving you enough time to stop it in its tracks. (Your doctor might suggest a histerectomy in the future.) If you're lucky enough to get the type that generates warts, they can be taken care of with a quick trip to your doctor's office (provided they're on the surface). Some even go away on their own, as viruses have a tendency to disappear after they run their course.
So, if the timing isn't right (for instance, if you're just too young to be having sex, or one of you is cheating, or one or both of you has an STI / STD, etc.), then it's best to abstain from sex, period. If you're not in a committed relationship, I suggest you abstain from sex, as well. If, on the other hand, you're in a committed relationship or married, then unless you're ready to be a mommy (and your partner, a daddy) then I still say practice safe sex with the use of contraceptions. Even in a marriage, it's best to practice safe sex, because truth be told, you really never know who you're married to, after all. All you can do is hope for the best. But, if worse comes to worst and you are already faced with that burden, then you should 1) abstain from sex, 2) get further tests done, 3) tell your boyfriend (and yes, in that order). Now, all you have to do is come up with a way to tell him. Don't flat out blame the guy, either, no matter how long you've been together. I realize some couples stay together for years before something like this happens (if at all), and the woman is faithful, yet she still winds up with an STI / STD, so logically, she assumes she got it from her current partner. That said, you should still devise a tactful approach; granted, you should let him know you didn't cheat on him, but also hold back the desire to rip him to shreds, and be prepared to be accused of passing it on to him, even if you're absolutely positive you're the innocent party. It's only human nature to defend oneselves in cases like these.
Be ready for any questions your partner may have, provided he isn't already versed in HPV (or other STIs / STDs--which should set off bells if he is, to an extent!) Talk to your doctor first, get the low down, do some research afterwards on your own, and present it to your boyfriend in a calm, collected manner, and hope he doesn't blame it all on you! If he does, understand that he's just as scared as you are, and regrets hurting you, even if he doesn't come right out and admit it might be his fault. In the moment, he doesn't want to look bad, and would do anything to save face. Not exactly a mature way to handle himself (although, it's a great way to see what kind of person he is, and if he pulls something like this, you probably don't need the guy, anyway).
Most importantly, no matter how he reacts, you do your best to stay calm. Don't overreact. Don't take anything he says to heart. And if he gets mad or worse yet, if he gets violent, just walk away. Tell him you'd love to continue the conversation after he has a chance to take it all in and cool off. In the meantime, take care of your health. You can have lots of boyfriends (which just might have gotten you into this predicament in the first place!), but you only have one life, so do your very best to take care of it.