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High risk HPV and terrified(8 Posts)
Hi I am really scared. I had a smear last week and the nurse called to say that my smear is normal but that I have a high risk strain of HPV so I will have to have a smear in 12 months instead of 3 years. My last smear 3 years ago was clear. I am worried on several counts. First, how is it I have this when I have been faithful to my husband for 10 years and he says he has with me. Also, isn't it a long time to wait for a full year, and also, I am frightened about the links with oral cancer. I have spent all day on the internet scaring myself. The nurse didn't seem to know much other than I 'shouldn't worry too much'. I have 3 children and am very very scared of something happening to me. Has anyone been through anything like this. Thank you . xx
Loads of people have those strains of HPV, and you could have had it for decades - they can be transmitted by any contact, not just sex, and only increase your risk of pre-cancerous changes that can eventually result in cervical cancer, which is why more frequent smears are advised. As results go, try just to think of it as useful background knowledge, just like you might be more careful to see the dentist every 6 months if prone to tooth decay.
Hey OP - I had this and ended up having some cells removed. It's not much fun but it's quite common and it's really not as scary as NHS leaflets make out. Good luck with it!
Thank you for your replies. I think I'm more scared about the link to oral cancer after I have done a bit more reading. Do you know anything about that??
I worry a lot about health since I had my kids. One has a learning disability too and the thought of having anything happen is just more than I can bear to think about.
Verybusy - I really wouldn't worry about the slight statistical risk with oral cancer; not only can you do nothing about it but from what I read when studying this stuff it seemed to be an artefact of the figures (most people have a reasonable chance of having HPV, people who have given oral sex to 100s of penises have a very high chance of HPV, the latter people have a higher rate of oral cancer, therefore HPV is 'associated' with oral cancer but not a cause).
Your smear this time was normal, and it's practically impossible for normal cells to change so much they could be cancerous within a year, so just make sure you get your next smears on time to catch any pre-cancerous changes and that's it.
Smoking and drinking are far bigger risk factors in oral cancer. Avoid smoking and don't drink to excess. The vast majority of people who contract high risk strains of HPV do not go on to get cancer - HPV is exceptionally common, cervical and oral cancer comparatively rare: about 8 in 100,000 women get cervical cancer each year (ie 0.00008% of women per year). I should imagine the number of women getting oral cancer linked to HPV infection each year is lower still than this, as oral cancer in women is really not a common cancer. Btw, dentists check for signs of oral cancer, so if you go to the dentist regularly, I'm sure they'd tell you if they saw anything unusual!
Hi op - just wanted to say something about dealing with the worry about your health. I feel your fear - have recently discovered something similar, and while i need further investigation to be sure, the likelihood of there being anything wrong is tiny and, like you, having just had a clear smear test anything there will be very early days and treatable. If you have an annual smear there is very little chance of anything going undetected.
When you look at the facts as they stand, there is no real reason to worry. Our brains though can take one fleeting thought and run with it until we convince ourselves that every ache and twinge is somehow connected, and we are in imminent danger of shuffling off. I have an anxiety disorder anyway, but my goodness, becoming a mother and the fear of leaving your child is unbearable. I really understand that.
Have you come across mindfulness? It is a meditation technique that helps you be in the moment rather than worrying about what might happen, and breaks the thought process that take one piece of information and leads it to places it has no business going. It is an amazing tool for managing anxiety or depression, and it is available via the nhs now - nothing woo or flaky about it. This website is a good place to start. It may help you deal with the worry (as will staying away from Dr Google!) and help you come to a place where you realise the fear is out of proportion to the situation, and that our thoughts are not facts. It will help bring you back to the reality of the situation (which really isn't too terrible), rather than the what if's.
Thank you so much for your positive messages. I will look into the mindfulness technique. My doctor has just prescribed anti anxiety tablets!! I have always worried about my health but for the last year or so I thought that I had got on top of it until this. My doctor didn't help by saying that it was very uncommon to have a high risk HPV for so long. I didn't realise that it can lie dormant. Maybe stress can trigger it off.
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