You’ve just been diagnosed with HPV, and your worries might not only be limited to your health. You might also wonder what it means for your relationship. If you’re in this position and are terrified, you aren’t alone – I’ve been there, and so have plenty of other women.
What Is HPV?
For those unfamiliar with the term, HPV describes a group of viruses that can transmit via sexual contact. While the infection typically clears up within two years without causing any issues, it can sometimes lead to cervical cancer in women. An estimated 3.2% of women in the general population have HPV at a given time.
Do I Have To Tell My Partner?
A healthcare professional might have already informed you that HPV is a common condition – it’s likely that your partner has already had it or will have it at some point in their life. You might even be wondering if telling them is worth the stressful conversation. However, honesty is always the best policy, and recognising that you can’t have a meaningful relationship with someone without trust is essential. When you decide not to disclose your diagnosis, you are essentially taking away your partner’s right to make their own decisions and showing a lack of respect for their health. Plus, while HPV doesn’t always lead to health issues, it can spread from skin to skin contact. As a result, using condoms won’t be 100% effective.
How Do I Prepare For This Kind of Conversation?
Just because HPV is nothing to be ashamed of doesn’t mean that sharing the diagnosis with other people is easy. When I first tested positive, I thought my sex life would be over and worried that my future partners hadn’t heard of it. Needless to say, having this kind of conversation was nerve-wracking. So here are a few tips that will hopefully make it a bit easier for you:
1. Learn more about HPV
If you’re nervous about disclosing it to your partner, it might be helpful to focus on facts instead of worrying about how they will react. Try to read about HPV as much as possible; learning about how common the infection is can put your mind at ease and prepare you for any questions your partner might have.
2. Choose the right time to talk
Don’t blurt it out when you’re running errands or cuddling with your partner. While HPV shouldn’t be the end of the world, it still requires having a serious conversation, and it’s best to approach the topic when the time is right. First, make sure that you and your partner are both in a good mood and aren’t in a hurry, then let them know that there’s something important you’d like to discuss with them. Importantly, it’s best not to beat around the bush. Remember that there’s nothing shameful in talking about your health!
3. HPV doesn’t have to be a big deal!
Try not to sound apologetic or say, “I understand if you won’t want to have sex again”, because you’ve done nothing wrong. Having sex is always a risk, no matter how safe you are. If your partner cares about you, they’ll appreciate that you confided in them. Hopefully, they will listen to your words without jumping to conclusions.
4. Discuss the next steps
If you and your partner have been sexually active for a while, chances are they’re already infected. However, they might still be worried about putting themselves at risk. Apart from deciding if you will use protection, there are a few more things to consider. For example, if you or your partner have never been vaccinated for HPV and are under 26 years old, you might still be able to get it done for free. It’s also crucial for your partner to pay attention to any new symptoms they might develop. As always, consult any changes with a doctor.
Ultimately, if your partner refuses to listen to you and treats you differently because of your diagnosis, it’s a sign they aren’t the right person for you. Don’t let anyone make you feel guilty or dirty for something that can happen to anyone.