Expert Answers Factual Answers to Your Sexual Health Questions
I found out I have HPV...what should we do to protect my boyfriend?
I’ve been with my boyfriend for 10 months...we were having unprotected sex until five months ago when I was diagnosed with HPV and carcinoma in situ, as well as external genital warts. After biopsy and treatment, my Pap test is normal now. My boyfriend went to the doctor and didn’t have any genital warts, but his doctor didn’t test for HPV...should he see another doctor to find out if he has HPV? The doctor also said we should use condoms and we’ve been using them, but does it matter because we didn’t use condoms for the first five months?
Ruthann M. Cunningham, MD on September 20, 2011
Thanks for your smart questions. I’m glad that you’re taking care of your health by getting Pap tests and treatment for your conditions. I’ll try to help you understand your diagnosis and the precautions you and your boyfriend should take now.
Your boyfriend has already done all he can to check himself for HPV...unfortunately, there currently aren’t any reliable HPV tests for men. HPV is a common infection that spreads easily, so it’s likely that he has HPV even if he doesn’t show any symptoms. The only thing your boyfriend can do at this point is to continue watching his body for symptoms and practice safer sex.
Using latex condoms or dental dams with all sexual activity greatly reduces the risk of spreading HPV and other STDs. Even if you’re both positive for HPV, I still advise you to use protection since each of your bodies is fighting the virus differently...and if one of you is in so-called “remission” (no symptoms), you don’t want the other person to re-activate the symptoms with their infection.
What other precautions should you take? Getting screened for other STDs may be a good idea as well. Why? Because if you’ve been exposed to one STD, like HPV, you might have been exposed to others. Some common infections, include chlamydia, herpes, gonorrhea, HIV, hepatitis B and C, and syphilis.
Getting tested is easy, and knowing if you have any other STDs will allow you to get treated, if necessary, and avoid potential complications from untreated STDs. /std-complications/ To learn more about STD testing, treatment and prevention, see our Expert Guide to STD Basics. /what-is-an-std/
Thanks for your question. I wish you and your boyfriend good health.
CDC: HPV and Men http://www.cdc.gov/std/hpv/STDFact-HPV-and-men.htm
CDC: Counseling for couples diagnosed with HPV infection http://www.cdc.gov/std/treatment/2010/genital-warts.htm#a4
Dr. Cunningham is a member of the Analyte Physicans Group. She's also a member of the American College of Emergency Physicians, practicing at both Northwestern Lake Forest Hospital in Illinois and at Wheaton Franciscan All Saints Medical Center in Wisconsin. An ER physician since 2000, she regularly treats patients with STDs. Dr. Cunningham was educated at Wayne State University School of Medicine and completed her Emergency Medicine residency at Cook County Hospital in Chicago, IL.