I am 65 and having been celibate for 14 years since the death of my husband (who I was with for 30 years) I met and began a new relationship 6 months ago with a divorcee who had been on his own (and celibate) for 4 years.
I have been extremely happy in this time and thought I had found an ideal partner.
I have been having vague internal discomfort for the past few weeks and was horrified to find 3 (that I can see) small wartlike lumps inside my vagina.
This has thrown me into a turmoil. Having considered the possibilities it seems to me that these could be vaginal warts. The thought of this is destroying me and I am ill with worry, There are so many implications.
If these are warts how has this happened? The new gentleman in my life is just that - a real gentleman and would not unwittingly put me at risk. I have not seen any warts on him. (1) Is it possible for him to have been carrying this virus and pass it to me without knowing about it himself?
(2) Is it possible that I could have been harbouring this virus and it has now resulted in visible warts? I have been under considerable stress recently after the death of a grandchild.
I had one previous sexual relationship before I met my husband although he had had several but it seems inconceivable that I could have had something for so long and not known about it.
I am in turmoil. I am refusing sexual contact with my new partner at present simply because I am not sure how I feel about anything at the moment.
I love this man but how can I know how this has happened?
I am pretty sure that when I talk to him about it he will be mortified. We are both conventional, conservative people.
I really need some advice about this - especially from someone who has had warts internally.
I know I will have to see my Doctor but I am so ashamed. I just dont know how to handle all this.
Hi Worrybug, I am so sorry you are going through this. I'm sure it is quite a shock!
First of all, I am so sorry for your loss of the grandchild and your husband. I'm sure those wounds heal slowly!
I am going to write my answer based on the assumption that the spots are genital warts. They may not be.
When it comes to HPV, it is possible for your new gentleman friend to have exposed you to low risk HPV (which causes genital warts). It is possible that you were exposed before (by your husband or the first man), but I suspect it is from the more recent contact. It is possible for warts to show up years or decades later, but from what I've seen (people's experiences) it happens in weeks, months, years - USUALLY.
I strongly suggest you get an appointment with your doctor (preferably a gynecologist) and ask for a vaginal exam to get this looked at. Are you still getting pap smears, even every 2 or 3 years? I hope so. If not, please ask for one. Some doctors don't think women past menopause (and I assume you are, I apologize if I am wrong) need paps . . . but as long as a woman has female genetalia, she needs a pap (even if it is only every 2-3 years).
HPV can be very confusing. There are so many different types, and they each do different things. There are many if/then situations. My suggestion is to read as much as you can from as many reliable sources as you can (Center for Disease Control, etc). We'll do our best to answer your questions, too.
After you feel more comfortable with the information, then you will probably feel better about talking with your gentleman friend about the (suspected) HPV. I don't know the extent of your relationship with him, but you might consider taking him to a doctor's appointment with you so the doctor can help explain things (after you have a good idea of what is going on).
I hope the doctor can tell you what they are and offer a quick treatment.
Write back when you can. We'll answer all the questions we can. Have you made a doctor's appointment yet?
second they maybe warts,,, but they may not,, it could be something else,,you need to get checkd first and foremost, it could be something simple like warts or something else. get it looked at just to be safe OKAY
Thank you so much for your replies. Yes I am post menopausal by many years and my last smear was 8 months ago and was clear. I have had in the past - about 10 years ago 1 abnormal smear but after the next smear it was clear and have had no recalls since. As they do not continue to take smears from women over the age of 65 I have now had my last smear.
I have not seen my Doctor yet. I am so anxious about this and feel somehow guilty about being in this situation. I know this is all negative stuff but I am not handling this well. I feel somehow I have messed up my life and just at a time when I have met someone I really care about.
I am particularly concerned that these 'warts' are internal as I am afraid it will make them more difficult to treat.
What are the prospects for my sex life now? - (after being celibate for so long I was pleased that all my bits were still in good working order)
and of course this is providing that the trust between myself and my new partner has not been irrevocably broken.
I am just as scared that I could have been carrying this for a long time and not known it. Why then would the warts be inside me? Would they not be external? Also if I had been carrying it would it not have shown up on all my previous smears?
I dont know enough at the moment so will have to keep looking for answers but at the moment I feel I am living a nightmare.
There are over 120 strains of HPV. There are over 20 strains that affect the genitals (vulva, vagina, cervix, penis, anus/rectum, mouth/throat). Of those 20+ strains, there are low risk (which can cause warts) and high risk (which can cause cellular changes which *could* lead to cancer in worst case scenarios). Over 80% of women, by the age of 60 (or is it 65?) who have been sexually active at ANY point in her life has been exposed to at least one strain of HPV.
HPV is considered an STD, but it is the most common STD. It is fairly safe to say that anyone who has been sexually active with more than one person in his/her life has most likely been exposed to a strain (or more) of HPV. Sexually active doesn't just mean sexual intercourse, it could be various forms of foreplay.
One lady (here at Healthboards) said she told her boyfriend (or maybe it was her husband) when she was diagnosed with HPV and his response was "You and everyone else." Unfortuantely not everyone knows how common HPV is.
HPV is transmitted by skin to skin contact, not body fluids. Condoms offer some protection against HPV, but not complete protection because there is plenty of skin to skin contact even when a condom is used.
MOST people have been exposed to strains of HPV and never suffer negative consequences of it. Their body is able to fight the virus so that it doesn't cause damage. Unfortunately, the virus stays in the body for life (similar to how the body keep the chicken pox virus for life).
If/when HPV begins to cause damage (whether it is warts or cellular changes) there are many ways the problem can be treated.
Genital warts can be treated with various creams. A doctor can freeze/burn the wart (whether they are external or internal). Cellular change (which unfortuantely usually is identified on the cervix) can be detected during a pap.
The National Cancer Institute says that even "older women" (their phrase, not mine) need to continue getting paps, even if they are no longer sexually active. I've read elsewhere that, even after long periods of celibacy or monogamous relationships, that if the woman gets a new sexual partner, then the woman needs to get paps done. Each new partner could potentially expose her to new gynecological problems.
The NCI reminds us that almost all cervical cancer is caused by (high risk) HPV and it can stay in the body for years (or decades) before it is detected. This is why the paps are still needed even after a woman is in a monogamous relationship or is celibate.
Prospects for your sex life? I suggest you see your doctor, get those spots diagnosed, identify a treatment plan, and talk with your partner. Maybe not all in that order. Assuming you and your partner are monogamous, then you can continue your physcial relationship as you had. There might be some minor changes (for a time period) during treatment, but I'm not sure.
You said that you think the trust between you and your partner might be "irrevocably broken." May I ask why you think that?
I am finding this difficult to handle so I am not sure how he will handle it either especially as we wont know for sure which of us the problem originated from.
I guess after reading up a bit on this that he is bound to be carrying it anyway by now even if he wasnt before. Even that knowlege is difficult to handle. I I know its not about apportioning blame but I wish it was more clear cut.
I feel some anger underneath it all even though by now I realise that I could myself have been carrying the virus and it might not have even come from him. I certainly have not seen or felt anything on him but to tell the truth after so long on my own I have been a bit inhibited so its difficult to say for sure. I just know that he is a real gentleman who would do absolutely nothing to hurt me and of course I feel the same about him but I am so confused at present that its impossible to think straight.
I will see my Dr as soon as I can and go from there. Thank you so much for your help. I needed to voice this somewhere and you have been so kind when I needed some words of comfort. I dont feel quite so alone now.
Don't be ashamed! I'm sure you have since doen some research on HPV yourself and discovered that many people have this virus (if this is what you have). It can lay dormant in the body for many years - some people never have symptoms of the virus and do not know they are carrying it.
I recently had some new outward symptoms similar to what you described. I went to visit my Chinese medicine doctor who has given me herbal medication, which I take diligently. It has been 2 days and my symptoms are almost completely gone.
I complement these medicines with a relatively high dosage of folic acid (found naturally in leafy green vegies etc.) and 2000mg Vitamin C every day. I also detox my body regularly (e.g. drink 2 litres of water every day and eat mostly fruit [though I am partial to the occassional chocolate
In my case, these new symptoms appeared because of:
Recent stress (the major cause of symptoms of HPV)
Alcohol consumed over the Easter holiday
Lack of fresh fruit and vegetables.
To put your mind at ease, I would advise seeing a female doctor. If you are concerned about seeing your family doctor, see a different doctor. They will likely conduct a brief examination or papsmear and you can discuss how to get rid of the warts.
Keep your immune system healthy at all costs. Relax. Meditate. Eat well. Rest. Enjoy life.
And when your symptoms are fully cleared up, enjoy your newfound love.
Life is too short to spend our time worrying or punishing ourselves!
Last edited by veryworriednow; 04-18-2009 at 11:43 PM.
Reason: Spelling mistake!
Another thing we should all remember is that having any sexual relationship unfortunately means that, in a way, we are also connected to all the people they have been with in their past.
We just need to stay healthy...thats all we can really do until HPV is eradicated.
I'm sure everyone is now aware of the HPV vaccination? In Australia they are offering it free to women under the age of 26 (which is no use to me It does not protect against all forms of the virus as there are so many, but it will help reduce the overall occurrence of HPV I am sure.
All women are able to get the vaccination (I think it costs $300 to women over the age of 26) and hopefullly, if we all get it, we can at least eradicate a few of the strains altogether.
I know its not about apportioning blame but I wish it was more clear cut.
I feel some anger underneath it all even though by now I realise that I could myself have been carrying the virus and it might not have even come from him. . . . I am so confused at present that its impossible to think straight.
Those feelings are totally normal! The feelings DO ease, but it takes awhile. Write back any time you wish to.
With respect to the Gardasil vaccine the US FDA is to blame here. While I understand they are supposed to be the watchdog and make sure things are safe in many instances they've approved drugs like Vioxx that has killed thousands and then they diddle daddle around approving Gardasil for use in boys and men. Over 40 other countries are already using the vaccine on boys and men but here in the US we sit and wait. Some docs are offering it to boys and men "off label" at their own expense of course. Also, the FDA has turned down Mercks request twice to have the age group expanded from 26 to 45, guess us older ladies don't count.
Also worrybug, sometimes men are just as devastated and upset to think that they may have given you the virus as you are to have it. They don't know they have HPV, unless of course they've had symptoms of LRHPV (warts) and obviously there is no screening test yet for them (aside from the male anal swab which is usually only done on gay men or those who know they have come in contact with HPV).