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Thursday, March 19, 2015

My Experience with HPV


I'm 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 no symptoms, and yet I had to urgently get a biopsy done on my cervix, that also came back abnormal. That was then sent off for analysis, and we were yet again left worrying. Weeks later the results came back negative for traces of cancerous cells. Sigh of relief.


This picture was taken before getting my procedure done on 17th April 2014

I then had to get my cervix lasered for lumps and bumps, and now 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 and get cervical cancer, or worse.

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 (that's the laser procedure I had done, and may have to do again in the future).

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 forever. 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, and I still got it. There are hundreds of HPV strains and the vaccines only cover four of them. 

I went from having nothing to have a threat of cervical cancer within one year. Smears are over in minutes and it can save your life.

You're supposed to get them yearly from the moment you become sexually active, and I've been getting them since I was 15. It's common procedure in Portugal, but I know in the UK and Ireland it's not like that.

Even in my case where I need to get smears done because I have HPV, I can't get one here and always have to fly home to see my doctor and get it done.


The view from my gynecologist's office... "Hi world, my vagina says hello!"

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 would have developed cancer and would now either be undergoing treatment, I'd be unable to have kids, or I'd be dead.

How in the world does that make sense?
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2 comments

  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 http://www.cancerscreening.nhs.uk/cervical/faq08.html (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 http://hpv.kegel.com/faq

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  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.

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