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to feel a bit shit about my past sexual activity?

(30 Posts)
Ledeluge Wed 08-Jun-16 14:00:08

Name change for this one.

Am having urgent scan tomorrow because apparently post menopausal bleeding is sometimes - around 10% of cases - a sign of cancer.

Firstly, I had no idea - I assumed that because you get random bleeding coming up to the menopause, it would not be a big deal after the menopause. I was quite taken aback by the reaction of health professional when I mentioned it. Is this common knowledge?

But also, having done a bit of research, I am now feeling a bit shit about my sexual history. Have been with DP for 28 years of blissful monogamy but did have quite a few partners in my youth. DP has only ever (well I'm taking a lot for granted here but pretty sure) had sex with me.

After my research today, my understanding is that I may well have HPV from my previous sexual history, putting me at greater risk for cervical cancer, and in that case, he may have HPV from me, putting him at greater risk of throat cancer?

AIBU to feel absolutely terrible about potentially having this impact on someone who has only ever slept with one woman?

icanteven Wed 08-Jun-16 14:03:23

YABVVVU. This is not the time to stress about a sexual encounter several decades ago, which is absolutely neither here nor there. Focus on yourself, and staying calm for tomorrow. You don't know anything yet, and the bleeding could be caused by any number of things.

Major hand-holding for the appointment tomorrow. Good luck!

TheNaze73 Wed 08-Jun-16 14:06:22

I echo the above sentiments. No need to beat yourself up about this

Welshmaenad Wed 08-Jun-16 14:07:37

I'm the sweetest possible way you are being VVVVVVVU.

IF you have HPV, that could have been picked up had you only had one partner prior to your DH.

10% chances, risks, maybes - you're jumping ahead of yourself so much.

You've lived a life. Don't regret it or shame yourself for it.

I hope everything goes well with your scan and that there's no cause for concern flowers

Ledeluge Wed 08-Jun-16 15:40:59

Thanks, that's exactly what I needed to hear, made me tear up a bit actually.

The point about being able to pick it up from one encounter is really helpful, gets it all back into perspective.

The anxiety about tomorrow is clearly getting to me. Been a bit knocked off balance by the strength of the health professionals response and the almost instant scan appointment. Will be good to get it out of the way.

Thanks again.

Welshmaenad Thu 09-Jun-16 11:40:40

Just popping back to wish you all the best for your scan today Ladeluge, I hope they're able to reassure you. flowers

booklooker Thu 09-Jun-16 11:51:36

I got this from a Gov website (because I had no idea what HPV was)

Anyone who is sexually active can get HPV, even if you have had sex with only one person. HPV is so common that nearly all sexually active men and women get it at some point in their lives. HPV can be passed even when an infected person has no signs or symptoms. You can develop symptoms years after you have sex with someone who is infected, making it hard to know when you first became infected.

www.cdc.gov/hpv/parents/whatishpv.html

VestalVirgin Thu 09-Jun-16 12:03:20

After my research today, my understanding is that I may well have HPV from my previous sexual history, putting me at greater risk for cervical cancer, and in that case, he may have HPV from me, putting him at greater risk of throat cancer?

I don't think throat cancer caused by HPV is that common in heterosexual men. Viruses can enter the body more easily if there's some tiny wound, and putting one's mouth on a vulva doesn't cause that. Neither does kissing, usually.

Also, if you were single for a time before meeting your husband, your body might well have combated the infection already. I've read that almost all women have antibodies against HPV, but most never get cancer.

shovetheholly Thu 09-Jun-16 12:10:43

Noooooo, please please PLEASE don't feel bad.

HPV is very, very common. It's like having a cold - who hasn't had one at some point? The vast majority of people have had it - it's just it's pretty symptomless, so they don't know and it resolves itself naturally.

Also, HPV is just a tiny part of the process of cellular change that can, in rare cases, lead to cancer. Unfortunately, in a very small minority of cases - and for reasons that are unclear - in some people the infection persists and triggers a series of further changes. All of those together, over time, can eventually lead to a group of cells becoming a problem. But this is rare!

Of course, it is worrying to be told to attend and you're bound to feel a bit off-balance and upset by this whole thing! Please try not to worry unduly about the colposcopy/scan, though. The vast majority of women who go find that there is nothing serious wrong! The fact that the reaction from health professionals is quick is not a reason to be alarmed - it's just that we have a really good screening/awareness programme here in the UK.

Even in the case that they find something - and I can't emphasize how unlikely this is - changes in the cells of the cervix, caught early, are really, really treatable.

Bettercallsaul1 Thu 09-Jun-16 12:58:23

There are many reasons for post-menopausal bleeding, OP, and the HPV virus may not be the reason at all. There is no reason to equate your condition with past sexual activity. The bleeding may well be caused by fibroids (benign growths in the womb) or by a thinning and inflammation of the endometrium (lining of the womb) due to lack of oestrogen after the menopause. Neither of these relates in any way to previous sexual behaviour so there is absolutely no need to feel "guilt"! The vast majority of reasons for post-menopausal bleeding are not serious. In the 10% of cases that are caused by cancer, the prognosis is very good if caught early. You have sought medical attention at the first symptoms, so you have done all you can. Good luck with your scan - I'm sure it will reassure you!

Sighing Thu 09-Jun-16 13:04:43

As others have said: it's not what you've done (even if it is HPV) as it's so frequent. Don't look back with regret, have you anything to feel bad about? .... i say no, if you're using a stick to beat yourself with that might be completely irrelevant. Good luck for the ongoing investigations. Please don't worry about what has been now (!) It's the past!

araiba Thu 09-Jun-16 13:08:46

this is why dr google is a bad idea

Gottagetmoving Thu 09-Jun-16 13:32:50

Any bleeding after menopause is considered cancer UNTIL proven otherwise.
Your doctor HAS to take it seriously and get you an urgent appointment. This happened to me,..I had a tiny bleed on one occasion, and I was so shocked by the doctors reaction that I made myself ill with worry. However, the nurses at the Colposcopy clinic reassured me that it is routine to treat your symptoms this way.
It can be something as simple as Vaginal atrophy causing the bleeding...as it was in my case.

Gottagetmoving Thu 09-Jun-16 13:34:50

Posted too soon - After Colposcpy I had to have a hysteroscopy. They check everything to make sure. It is brilliant thatthey treat it so seriously - however, they should not alarm you in the way they do it - It should be explained properly

shovetheholly Thu 09-Jun-16 13:55:40

It's not that it's considered cancer until proven otherwise - it's that it gets put onto a urgent two-week referral pathway to rule out cancer. There is a big difference! It's not considered anything but a symptom - bleeding post-menopause - until there is evidence for what is causing it. No diagnostic assumption is made until there is evidence.

I'm being pedantic here (sorry), but I don't want women to assume that doctors assume they have cancer the moment they bleed post-menopause. That would be alarming and the stress attendant on it would cause harm! It's more that, in a small number of cases, that symptom can indicate cancer, so this needs to be ruled out first, before other investigations take place. It's a question of prioritization more than anything: the need to catch a small amount of cancer cases that are urgent trumps the need to make other diagnoses quickly. If women with cancer had to rule out other, more likely things like fibroids before getting that test, it would give the disease time to progress. While this means a lot of women go through the stress of a scare only for the majority to find it's a false alarm, it does saves lives this way round.

Gottagetmoving Thu 09-Jun-16 14:28:17

Sorry shovetheholly but that is exactly what the Doctor and nurses told me. That it is considered cancer until proved otherwise. Their words not mine.
I agree it is alarming because that is all I 'heard'...'cancer'.
It is probably their way of explaining that it has to be ruled out first and therefore urgent referral as you describe

Cherylene Thu 09-Jun-16 14:41:43

I think you are jumping too many guns too quickly here!!

There is no guarantee that you got HPV even if you had quite a few sexual partners in your youth, just as only having one does not guarantee you will not have it, if that one had sex with one other that had it. Like any other virus, you body will have dealt with it so you may not have it now (or your DP).

You have to be checked to rule out cancer, but you may find it is probably just thickening of the lining or something and get offered a mirena (depending how post meno you are). Or fibroids is a common one.

It is always worrying to have to do something like this. Have a look at the menopause board - there are always plenty threads on post menopause bleeding. smile

shovetheholly Thu 09-Jun-16 14:55:06

gottaget - I'm sorry you were told that, it's not right and must have scared you witless (I know I would be terrified to hear something like that and I'm sure your family were frightened too). I'm so sorry you went through such a poor explanation of what was happening to you sad.

I used to work in this area, at a national level. Protocol is: diagnosis is only made at the point where evidence is available to support it. On having any symptoms that might be considered remotely suspicious, women should be referred on a two-week cancer pathway to rule that out first. Once it's ruled out, other possible causes for the bleed are explored. But this is not an assumption the woman has cancer (the vast majority don't!).

Gottagetmoving Thu 09-Jun-16 15:13:22

Thanks shovetheholly I like your explanation a lot better than the one I was given.
The doctor who did the colcoscopy also scared me because she took 5 biopsies and told me my cervix looked very suspicious. She said: 'I am not saying you have cancer but I have to tell you it is not looking good so I think it i sbest you come in for the results rather than us call you''
I ended up on bloody beta blockers while I awaited results, and a Hysteroscopy which were clear!
I started crying when I went for my results - and the nurses were horrified at how I had been treated. They told me I should have called them at the clinic with my worries. They were lovely.

shovetheholly Thu 09-Jun-16 15:25:43

Oh gosh, that is appalling. It makes me angry you were treated that way - doctors are given guidance about the harm that is done by anxiety during the wait, which explains the need to reassure and support. But sadly, many don't follow this. I am cross on your behalf that you went through that. It sounds tremendously traumatic. Having been through a breast cancer scare myself, even though I knew all the stats on how low the odds were of my actually having it, I still worried!! I can't imagine how much worse it must have been not being given the right messages.

And yes, you make a really, really important point- if anyone reading this is going through similar anxieties, many of the nurse practitioners on the end of the phone at the clinic are superb at explaining things and offering reassurance. Do give them a ring, and don't worry that you're 'wasting their time' - it's what they are there for!

MissMoo22 Thu 09-Jun-16 15:34:24

Just some reassurance from me.....I posted here a few months ago about my MIL having Post Menopausal Bleeding (she wanted my advice and for me to see what the internet said as she doesn't go online) and Dr Google is one scary fucker! I was more scared than she was when she went for all her tests but she was fine. She had a womb infection causing the bleeding and just needed some antibiotics and time to recover.

I hope you get some reassurance today at your appointment.

Gottagetmoving Thu 09-Jun-16 15:40:18

Thank you! It would have been such a help if I had known I could call the clinic for support during the wait. Even though I have a bit of a 'don't like to bother them' attitude,..I think I would have called because my anxiety was massive!
I had also Googled it after my Doctor told me it was considered cancer until proved otherwise and that was a BIG mistake - It made everything worse because I then was convinced I was dying!
My poor DP did not know how to help and he was worried sick.
The nurses in that clinic were wonderful. They sat and chatted to me for about 20 minutes and gave me a hug... ( I am not a huggy person,..but it was lovely and much needed)
I think there are doctors who need additional training!
I

Corneliussnitch Thu 09-Jun-16 15:45:51

I had post- menopausal bleeding a few years ago , turned out to be a fibroid. All dealt with very quickly and as shovetheholly says you should be advised that cancer is a possible cause that needs to be excluded but it is more likely to be somerhing much simpler. Good luck Op

shovetheholly Thu 09-Jun-16 15:52:23

I agree completely. Anxiety has been shown to cause very real physical and mental harms (you poor thing on beta-blockers!). It is something that needs to be minimized, and simply communicating more clearly can REALLY help.

The other thing is, when you hear the c-word, sometimes your mind just freezes and it's just pure, icy panic and that crazy situation where you can find yourself thinking more about how you are reacting in a semi-public situation than you are thinking about the issue itself. Both my parents have been diagnosed with cancer at one point or another, and in both cases, even when I had quite a lot of knowledge, I wasn't able to think what to ask - questions came afterwards. That's also where ringing the clinic can be so helpful. I'm so glad the nurses were good with you. It's just a shame you went through that bruising experience beforehand.

flowers to all those suffering the anxious wait, now and in the past, and especially to ledeluge

Cherylene Thu 09-Jun-16 16:09:12

My DH has some sort of weird unusual autoimmune thing that affects his nerves, that no one seems to be able to find the root of. He had an attack a while back where he was losing the feeling in his had and in pain, and the new GP said to be prepared for something like MS.

So later, lots of tests with neurologist etc, and it is definitely his unusual weird autoimmune thing, which the rheumatologist got quickly back under control. A huge relief - I was imagining all sorts of degenerative nerve disorders and fully expecting to have to wheel him round Waitrose in a few months............ (had just seen the Stephen Hawking film).

You just can't guess at a diagnosis until you have all the facts and test results. (Neurologist and rheumatologist were fab, by the way).

flowers to OP and others from me too. It ain't no fun waiting.

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