Can someone with HPV still have safe sex?

No, HPV does not have to mean the end of a relationship.

June 22nd 2023.

Can someone with HPV still have safe sex?
One in eight of us will contract human papillomavirus (HPV) at some point in our lifetimes, yet it can still feel like a dating death sentence. But it doesn't have to be that way. In order to understand why HPV isn't something to be ashamed of, it's important to know more about it.

HPV is the name given to a group of sexually transmitted diseases that can cause symptoms like genital warts and abnormal cervical cells. That said, most people's bodies are able to fight off HPV without further complications, and only certain strains can lead to increased cancer risk.

Plus, it's likely that many people have been in contact with HPV without ever finding out, since it can only be detected via a cervical screening test. That's because HPV can spread even while using condoms during penetrative sex, as condoms only provide partial protection.

That's why world-renowned couples therapist and lead advisor at sex therapy app Blueheart, Dr. Katherine Hertlein, notes that it's all shame-based: ‘And that shame can cause a lack of confidence in dating where the person may feel like they don’t know how to meet people and they don’t want to explain it.’

Karen Hobbs, an expert working with The Eve Appeal, agrees, adding that the only way to not get HPV or pass on HPV is to refrain from any type of sexual contact, which is unrealistic for most people.

But it's important to note that while anyone with an STD might feel obligated to tell a potential partner about their infection, HPV is unlike other STDs, and it's likely the majority of people will have been in contact with it before.

Plus, our immune system is designed to get rid of HPV, like it does with colds, and the NHS runs vaccination programmes against HPV for certain demographics. Most HPV infections will go away on their own within two years, and it's always a good idea to go for regular cervical screenings and wear condoms where applicable, especially with new or multiple partners.

So, while contracting HPV can be terrifying, it doesn't have to spell the end of your sex life - safe sex is good sex, and that should go without saying.

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