Thursday, March 19, 2015

My Experience with HPV

I am 20 years old.

After my annual smear test last year, I tested positive for high-risk HPV, and had no idea what that meant, or why my mum was so scared for me. 

I had experienced no symptoms, and yet I had to urgently get a cervical biopsy. The results for that biopsy took several weeks to arrive, and I was really worried about it. I think, primarily, I was worried about the fact that I didn't know what to expect. Weeks later, the results came back negative for traces of cancerous cells. Sigh of relief.

I had to wait a few months to proceed with any treatment, as I was living in the UK and in the middle of my first year of University, so I couldn't just pick up and fly to Portugal to see my doctor. I was advised to get a procedure called a "cervical laser conization", in which my doctor lasered off the affected part of my cervix. This was only a little uncomfortable, and I didn't experience any major bleeding. This procedure has increased my chances of experiencing miscarriage someday, and I have to get a smear test every 6 months for the rest of my life to ensure that I don't develop it again. The more of these procedures you have to get, the higher your risk of miscarriage.

All I want in the world is to be a mum, and besides dying, not being able to conceive and carry my own children is my biggest fear. 

Not getting your smear tests done isn't worth the risk and the grief. It's not worth the higher risk of miscarriage after extensive cervical conizations. It's not worth the fear and the heartache of knowing that you're going to carry this disease with you forever and know that your health is compromised. I am perpetually concerned that I have, or am developing cancerous cells. 

I never knew anything about HPV until I had it. I got all 3 of the vaccinations when I was 16 years old, and I still got it. There are hundreds of HPV strains and the vaccines only cover four of them. 

I went from having absolutely nothing wrong with me, to having a threat of cervical cancer within less that one year. Smears are over in just a few minutes and they can save your life.

I've been getting yearly cervical smears since I was 15. My mum always insisted that I should be seeing a gynaecologist regularly since I became sexually active. It's common procedure in Portugal, but I know in the UK it's not like that.

Even in my case, where I need to get smears done because I have HPV, I can't get my routine smear tests in the UK, simply because I am not 25. I always have to fly home to see my doctor.

Common procedure in the UK is getting them done every 3 years after you're 25. If I had been left to wait that long, I could have developed cancer and could now either be undergoing treatment, potentially unable to have kids, or I could be dead.

How in the world does that make sense?



  1. Great view!

    Most cases of high risk HPV clear up on their own.
    You should probably get an HPV test every six months for a while.
    If you test negative for HPV several times in a row, you can probably go back to the normal smear schedule.
    It's only when the infection continues that you have to worry.

    Also, there's a good reason they don't do routine smear tests in the UK on healthy women under 25 -- it isn't effective at reducing cancer, and treating the false positives can harm women and make preterm labor more likely. See (That's only for routine screening of healthy women. Once a woman has symptoms, she doesn't need routine screening, she needs to be seen by a doctor -- which is exactly what the UK screening guidelines say.)

    For (way) more info on HPV, see

  2. Oh no thats horrible. I'm glad that your results came back negative.
    In Australia, we have to go for a pap smear test every 2 years after you become sexually active.
    As uncomfortable as they can be, as you mentioned, can save you.
    I hope you are able to have children one day.