Queer, HPV+ and polyamorous for the first time

1000cryingdads

New member
Hi! I'm in my first successful polyamorous partnership and I was recently diagnosed with high risk HPV and cin 3, which just means that 2/3 of the surface of my cervix has pre-cancer cells present, its not cancer, but the last stop before becoming cancer. I just recently went through a LEEP procedure, which is done to cut out any pre-cancer cells, there is a 60-70% chance that this step will have treated my high risk hpv, although i will still always have the virus. I have to wait 6 months before knowing what my prognosis is.

The reason I came here is because I'm struggling a lot with the idea of what sex and relationships will look for me. I'm saddened by the amount of reading material on HPV I keep seeing that suggests one should be monogamous (bc the risk of HPV increases with more than one sex partner) I'm new to polyamory, and decided I wanted to practice it for the first time this year, ironically during a global pandemic and quarantine! I'm only dating one person atm, they have many other partners. Im currently having a running conversation with my partner about what our risk assessment is and how to have safe sex in the future, what kinds of barriers we should use ect. but im still feeling worried about the future of what pleasurable sex really is for me and I keep questioning whether Im doing everything to be extra safe. HPV spreads through skin to skin contact, and that makes me fearful of any kind of sex. I feel crushed by my results and the lack of discussion about hpv in the poly world. Is there anyone out there who is HPV+ and still polyamorous? If so do you have any advice for a person like me? I would love to hear from you and about anyone's experiences around hpv and polyamory! Thank you <3
 

AlwaysGrowing

Active member
Honestly, HPV is so prevalent that if everyone stopped having sex because of it, very few people would be sexually active.

I had an abnormal pap once. Colposcopy done aaaaand... High risk hpv. Very small amount of abnormal cells and repeat pap 6 months later was completely clear. Never had an issue since.

Every person I've ever told about it has shrugged it off. It has been a non-issue. I do still tell people of my history, though, because regular testing is imperative to early diagnosis/positive prognosis.

The stigma around HPV isn't bad. It isn't like HSV (justified or not, there IS a negative stigma there) where people get so worried about getting it that they refuse to get involved with folks who have been diagnosed.
 

1000cryingdads

New member
HPV returns to a dormant state after about a year or so. The chances of transmission are much lower at this time. You should have a repeat pap smear 6-12 monthly until your smear returns to normal.
This is a bit of a misconception and doesn't apply to my situation. Yes, the consensus when it comes to HPV is that your body could clear the virus within 1-2 years, but that is in relation to HPV without cell changes, which is a lower risk HPV. I have high risk HPV with pre-cancer cell changes, so actually the chances of transmission or the possibility of me getting another strain of HPV remain high
 

1000cryingdads

New member
Honestly, HPV is so prevalent that if everyone stopped having sex because of it, very few people would be sexually active.

I had an abnormal pap once. Colposcopy done aaaaand... High risk hpv. Very small amount of abnormal cells and repeat pap 6 months later was completely clear. Never had an issue since.

Every person I've ever told about it has shrugged it off. It has been a non-issue. I do still tell people of my history, though, because regular testing is imperative to early diagnosis/positive prognosis.

The stigma around HPV isn't bad. It isn't like HSV (justified or not, there IS a negative stigma there) where people get so worried about getting it that they refuse to get involved with folks who have been diagnosed.
I know about how prevalent this virus is, you'd think there'd be more discourse about HPV in poly circles, but I've never heard anyone I know who practices polyamory talk about it.

I'm so glad you got yourself checked out! Getting routine paps is so important! I'm glad that you were able to clear those abnormal cells without further treatment. Unfortunately for me 2/3 of my cervix had pre-cancer cells which is why I had to get the LEEP.

I've noticed the same shrug-off, non-issue attitude from other people towards HPV, and it sucks. I'm glad that you still tell people about your history! I really hate how stigmatized HSV is because it does not have any of the scary health risks that HPV cause. Many people have HSV without even knowing because when going in for routine STI tests you have to ask for that test specifically.

I'm curious, after your high risk diagnosis, did it change how you approached dating or safe sex with partners? I'm super concerned about the risks of transmission between myself and my partner's partners. I've offered to use more barriers than just condoms, like a dental dam when it comes to oral sex. My partner is willing to do anything to keep me feeling safe, but neither of us were too excited about that idea.

I just wanna make sure I'm being responsible now so in the future when I do find myself wanting to date again Ill know how to approach a new partner about my status.
 
This is a bit of a misconception and doesn't apply to my situation. Yes, the consensus when it comes to HPV is that your body could clear the virus within 1-2 years, but that is in relation to HPV without cell changes, which is a lower risk HPV. I have high risk HPV with pre-cancer cell changes, so actually the chances of transmission or the possibility of me getting another strain of HPV remain high

Actually research shows that HPV is more likely to return to a dormant state like HSV and the "reinfection" is a flare up of the original infection the same as with herpes. So when you have a negative pap smear after the 12 months or so, it is actually showing the virus at an undetectable state. The knowledge we have from other viruses like HSV let's us know that transmission at this time will be greatly reduced by viral shedding still remains a possibility. However, early hypothesis predicts that viral shedding outside of the times where you have a detectable viral load will not be as easily transmitted as it is with HSV in the absence of a breakout.

So you're not more vulnerable to contracting HPV again but the HPV you have got now could return to an active state again. It could reemerge.


That's got nothing to do with cell changes but more to do with the lifespan of the virus.
 

kdt26417

Official Greeter
Hello 1000cryingdads,

HPV does not mean that you have to become monogamous; however, it does mean that you and your partners will need to read up on HPV and understand the risk, before having sex. Some partners will be okay with the risk, it's just important that they know what they're signing up for. Wikipedia has a good article on HPV. But I get the feeling you have already looked at that article, and many other articles as well. Now it is up to your potential sex partners to do their own research, and make an educated guess as far as what kind of risk they can consent to taking. Perhaps they will want to wait the six months between now and your prognosis, or, maybe they'll be willing to have sex right away. That is their decision.

I do not have HPV so take my opinion with a grain of salt. However, when in doubt, I always default to the rule of mutual consent. If you're consenting, and your sex partner is also consenting, then philosophically there's not a problem. Just so the consent is educated consent. High-risk HPV is nothing to mess around with.

Such are my 2¢,
Kevin T.
 

AlwaysGrowing

Active member
I'm curious, after your high risk diagnosis, did it change how you approached dating or safe sex with partners? I'm super concerned about the risks of transmission between myself and my partner's partners. I've offered to use more barriers than just condoms, like a dental dam when it comes to oral sex. My partner is willing to do anything to keep me feeling safe, but neither of us were too excited about that idea.
I haven't personally changed anything. I am more than willing to do whatever safer sex measures my partners prefer if it goes beyond my minimum, of course, but literally nobody has ever had an issue with it. I dated one very sti-concerned woman who used dental dams/plastic wrap for oral and gloves for mutual masturbation, but that was her thing with ALL partners regardless of previous diagnoses because of her other health concerns making STIs much more risky for her.

I don't date much nowadays, but when I did... I just made sure the safer sex talk happened so we'd be on the same page. More often than not, either the person I was dating or a sexual partner of theirs or a partner of a partner had also had hpv detected at some point so everyone I have met that's actually poly assumes they are carriers (mono men I've dated have occasionally put less thought into it).
 

1000cryingdads

New member
Actually research shows that HPV is more likely to return to a dormant state like HSV and the "reinfection" is a flare up of the original infection the same as with herpes. So when you have a negative pap smear after the 12 months or so, it is actually showing the virus at an undetectable state. The knowledge we have from other viruses like HSV let's us know that transmission at this time will be greatly reduced by viral shedding still remains a possibility. However, early hypothesis predicts that viral shedding outside of the times where you have a detectable viral load will not be as easily transmitted as it is with HSV in the absence of a breakout.

So you're not more vulnerable to contracting HPV again but the HPV you have got now could return to an active state again. It could reemerge.


That's got nothing to do with cell changes but more to do with the lifespan of the virus.
[/QUO
Hello 1000cryingdads,

HPV does not mean that you have to become monogamous; however, it does mean that you and your partners will need to read up on HPV and understand the risk, before having sex. Some partners will be okay with the risk, it's just important that they know what they're signing up for. Wikipedia has a good article on HPV. But I get the feeling you have already looked at that article, and many other articles as well. Now it is up to your potential sex partners to do their own research, and make an educated guess as far as what kind of risk they can consent to taking. Perhaps they will want to wait the six months between now and your prognosis, or, maybe they'll be willing to have sex right away. That is their decision.

I do not have HPV so take my opinion with a grain of salt. However, when in doubt, I always default to the rule of mutual consent. If you're consenting, and your sex partner is also consenting, then philosophically there's not a problem. Just so the consent is educated consent. High-risk HPV is nothing to mess around with.

Such are my 2¢,
Kevin T.
Thank you for your opinion. I have been having an ongoing discussion with my partner because of my high risk hpv status. I told my partner that it was a good idea to disclose my status, including my precancer CIN 3 diagnosis. That sure made me feel vulnerable! I didn't really know what to say when they asked what I needed from them to feel safe in regards to their sex life with their other partners. My only thought was asking to make sure every one of their partners has had a recent pap test including the HPV test. A lot of folks hate going to the gynecologist for valid reasons and I get that but I'm honestly not sure how safe I can really be with this partner. I'm trying my best to figure it out but it is a struggle
 

1000cryingdads

New member
I haven't personally changed anything. I am more than willing to do whatever safer sex measures my partners prefer if it goes beyond my minimum, of course, but literally nobody has ever had an issue with it. I dated one very sti-concerned woman who used dental dams/plastic wrap for oral and gloves for mutual masturbation, but that was her thing with ALL partners regardless of previous diagnoses because of her other health concerns making STIs much more risky for her.

I don't date much nowadays, but when I did... I just made sure the safer sex talk happened so we'd be on the same page. More often than not, either the person I was dating or a sexual partner of theirs or a partner of a partner had also had hpv detected at some point so everyone I have met that's actually poly assumes they are carriers (mono men I've dated have occasionally put less thought into it).
That is interesting, thank you for sharing! I've never used gloves or dental dams with a partner before, and I am a little nervous to try because of the lack of sensation I've been experiencing post LEEP. It's good to hear there are other health conscious people out there having sex with extra precautions, it makes me want to try harder. The hope is that my LEEP procedure will have treated my high risk hpv infection, but there's no way of telling until the 6 month mark.

I'm still healing, and have about 4 weeks left before I can have sex again. I think for the future I will have to use gloves and dental dams because I am so high risk. My partner is amab, but all their other partners are afab. I have agreed to let my partner share the seriousness of my status with their other partners. I haven't asked yet, but I have considered asking to make sure that all of their current partners have had a recent pap with HPV testing (most gynos don't include this test if you're under 30, so a lot of ppl get paps and STI testing thinking they've covered all the bases when really they haven't) I don't think that's an unreasonable request considering we once had a condom break.

I'm already scheduled for a consult with a sex therapist, who I will be relaying all of these worries to. I think I just needed to talk to other more seasoned poly folks while I'm going through this weird awful time because I feel like I don't know what I'm doing! Thank you so much for your input, it really helps to hear from other people who have encountered this virus.
 

Evie

Active member
In NZ, our youth have been vaccinated against HPV for years now, and it's assumed the rest of us have it/have been exposed in our lives. It doesn't even enter sti status conversations.
 

AlwaysGrowing

Active member
I haven't asked yet, but I have considered asking to make sure that all of their current partners have had a recent pap with HPV testing (most gynos don't include this test if you're under 30, so a lot of ppl get paps and STI testing thinking they've covered all the bases when really they haven't) I don't think that's an unreasonable request considering we once had a condom break.
To be fair, all doctors I've ever talked to has said that there ISN'T a reliable way to test for HPV unless abnormal cells are detected. Sure, they can swab an area and test, but unless they get lucky and hit the right spot it won't show. Also, my insurance won't cover it unless there's a reason (abnormal pap). A regular pap is all that's needed. And even that is only recommended every 3 years nowadays, unless there's a history. With my HPV history, I still only have to have one every 3 years now since it was a strain that is usually so slow growing that they aren't worried about it going unchecked that long.

Obviously with a super aggressive strain, your doctors can set up a schedule that makes sense (every 6 months until cleared then probably annually, but who knows) for your situation. Your partner's partners telling their care provider "my partner fucks someone with this particular strain" may very well say that it is super common and no reason for any action other than routine paps.

I would personally advise against making any request/demand that doesn't have to do with you personally. Your partner's partners have no reason to spend the money/discomfort of invasive tests unless their care providers recommend it. If you're not comfortable with their choices, then you change YOUR behavior. Not theirs.

In NZ, our youth have been vaccinated against HPV for years now, and it's assumed the rest of us have it/have been exposed in our lives. It doesn't even enter sti status conversations.
I got the vaccine as a kid/young teen (can't remember exactly when) but still got diagnosed with a DIFFERENT strain. Unfortunately the vaccines (in the US at least) only reliably protect against a handful of the hundreds of strains known to exist.
 

1000cryingdads

New member
To be fair, all doctors I've ever talked to has said that there ISN'T a reliable way to test for HPV unless abnormal cells are detected. Sure, they can swab an area and test, but unless they get lucky and hit the right spot it won't show. Also, my insurance won't cover it unless there's a reason (abnormal pap). A regular pap is all that's needed. And even that is only recommended every 3 years nowadays, unless there's a history. With my HPV history, I still only have to have one every 3 years now since it was a strain that is usually so slow growing that they aren't worried about it going unchecked that long.

Obviously with a super aggressive strain, your doctors can set up a schedule that makes sense (every 6 months until cleared then probably annually, but who knows) for your situation. Your partner's partners telling their care provider "my partner fucks someone with this particular strain" may very well say that it is super common and no reason for any action other than routine paps.

I would personally advise against making any request/demand that doesn't have to do with you personally. Your partner's partners have no reason to spend the money/discomfort of invasive tests unless their care providers recommend it. If you're not comfortable with their choices, then you change YOUR behavior. Not theirs.



I got the vaccine as a kid/young teen (can't remember exactly when) but still got diagnosed with a DIFFERENT strain. Unfortunately the vaccines (in the US at least) only reliably protect against a handful of the hundreds of strains known to exist.
Thank you so much for this advice! I needed to hear this kind of realness, thank you! Thankfully I never asked this of my partner, so whew. I really don't want to upset the balance. I have to be honest that trying to be polyamorous while navigating my diagnosis and treatment has been incredibly hard, Unfortunately my doctor was not able to tell me what strain of HPV I have. I'm not sure why that is, but I do know its not the major cancer causing types 16 or 18. I wish I knew more specifically so I could share that info, but I think I've shared everything else I possibly could.

You're so right. I do need to change my behavior, and only mine. Thank you for saying that. I'm trying, and right now am just spending time alone to give my partner space. My lack of experience with dating in the poly sphere hasn't helped. Being high risk hpv+ has been such a source of insecurity that I'm forgetting how to act! Its a discomfort I will have to deal with.
 
Thank you so much for this advice! I needed to hear this kind of realness, thank you! Thankfully I never asked this of my partner, so whew. I really don't want to upset the balance. I have to be honest that trying to be polyamorous while navigating my diagnosis and treatment has been incredibly hard, Unfortunately my doctor was not able to tell me what strain of HPV I have. I'm not sure why that is, but I do know its not the major cancer causing types 16 or 18. I wish I knew more specifically so I could share that info, but I think I've shared everything else I possibly could.

You're so right. I do need to change my behavior, and only mine. Thank you for saying that. I'm trying, and right now am just spending time alone to give my partner space. My lack of experience with dating in the poly sphere hasn't helped. Being high risk hpv+ has been such a source of insecurity that I'm forgetting how to act! Its a discomfort I will have to deal with.
In the US they will now give vaccinations for hpv up to age 45. I would encourage everyone who can to get vaccinated.
My OB/gyn recommended this for me as well as the vaccine has been shown in some studies to be helpful in "clearing" the virus (resulting in fewer abnormal changes in the cervix) for woman who are hpv+
 
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