Ask a Doc

Ask a question | Browse | Most recent

Questions from May 2009

Daize Asks:

Is it possible to have HPV, have it clear up then become active again? I have had multiple procedures done for everything from mild dysplasia to CIN 111 to VAIN. I had normal paps for 10 years in between the first abnormal pap (that was before HPV was known about)

The answer to your question is 'yes' it is possible for HPV to become active again.  But it doesn't happen in every case.  HPV has a tendency to lay dormant for years.  It can then reoccur. In some women, it may reoccur many times and cause the changes you have described such as CIN or cervical intraepithelial neoplasia and VAIN or vaginal intraepithelial neoplasia.  In other women, it may not reoccur.  If you think you are having problems, please contact your doctor and ask about these concerns.

Breee Asks:

I just got my 2nd shot, and I also just found out I'm pregnant -- no more than 6 weeks -- but i was pregnant when I got the shot. Is this going to hurt the baby?

While the vaccine is not recommended for women who are pregnant, so far in the ongoing registries, there is no evidence that the vaccine harms the baby.  Do talk the situation over with your health care provider, but don’t be overly anxious. 

mardy Asks:

 Is it safe to get pregnant after getting the vaccine?

Getting pregnant now after receiving the vaccine is fine. The vaccine is considered a class B drug and there are ongoing pregnancy registries tracking pregnancy outcomes in women who have gotten pregnant around the time of receiving the vaccine.  See the question and answer above from Bitsy. You should feel perfectly safe getting pregnant after getting the three vaccine series. 

daniella Asks:

When I got with my partner 8 years ago he gave me HPV.  I went to the doctor and she gave me medicine to make the warts go away. It has been 8 years and I haven't had any warts come back. So does that mean I don't have the virus anymore?

While most HPV becomes clinically not detectable after some time, this does not necessarily mean it has gone away.  You may have cleared the virus or it may still be in your body in non-detectable levels. The good news is that the likelihood of its returning, once it is gone, is small.  Most of us have HPV but never know it.  It is very common.

Brett Asks:

I have gotten out of a relationship of 4 months. My partner had cervical cancer about 1 1/2 years ago. What are the chances of passing HPV to my next partner?

The likelihood is high that you are infected with a high risk HPV type which means that you may pass it on to your next partner.  Unfortunately, the risk of your transmitting this HPV type to your next partner is not known.  What we do know is that a number of things need to occur, in addition to oncogenic or cancerous HPV infection, before a woman develops cervical cancer. Most women who have an HPV infection clear it on their own and cancer does not develop. Transmitting the virus to your partner rarely results in any disease.  HPV infections in men, like those in women, clear on their own most of the time over a period of time which can last from a few months to several years.  To best understand your specific risk, you should discuss these issues with a healthcare provider that deals with HPV so they can give you more personal guidance.

Rondalynn Asks:

If a woman had mild dysplasia, had cryotherapy for treatment, then 10 years later had her cervix removed during a hysterectomy, can she still develop cervical cancer?

The answer to your question depends on why you had a hysterectomy.

·                                 If you had a hysterectomy to treat cervical cancer, you should continue to have regular Pap tests to make sure the cancer hasn’t come back.

·                                 If you had a hysterectomy to treat pre-cancerous changes in your cervix, you should continue to have regular tests for at least a few years after the surgery.

·                                 If you had a hysterectomy where your cervix was not removed (called a subtotal or supracervical hysterectomy), you should have regular tests until you are at least 70 years old. Since your cervix wasn’t removed, there is still a chance, albeit small, that you could develop cervical cancer.

·                                 If you had a total hysterectomy (the entire uterus, including the cervix was removed) for a reason other than cancer or pre-cancer, you may not need to have the Pap or HPV test any more. Check with your doctor first, since some conditions may mean that you should continue to be tested.

·                                 If you had a hysterectomy and have an immune system disease (such as infection with HIV) or are taking medicines that suppress your immune system (such as after a kidney transplant), you may be more likely to develop diseases as a result of your HPV infection. You should be tested regularly.

You should discuss your situation and your risk factors for HPV infection with your health care provider. No matter what you decide about the Pap and HPV tests, you should continue to have regular pelvic exams.

Jane Asks:

Are there any side effects to the HPV vaccine?

Studies show that the vaccine is extremely safe. There is no live virus in the vaccine. The most common side effects are redness and soreness where the shot was given. Headaches (like when you have a cold or fever) can also happen. Rarely, fever can also occur. Over-the-counter pain and fever medications will help if you have symptoms. As with any new medication, safety issues will continue to be monitored by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the FDA.  While there are rare reports of girls or young women having complications after getting the vaccine, to date, this has not affected recommendations or approval for use of the vaccine.

joh Asks:

I am confused about you saying that HPV is ONLY contacted through sex. I was told I had the HPV virus and changed cells etc. But at the time I had not had sex or gential contact with anyone? Can you explain?

HPV is transmitted by skin to skin contact. Sex is the most common skin to skin contact when this occurs.

return to top of page return to top of page