HPV transmission

Women in Same-sex Relationships

I have been diagnosed with HPV and I am a lesbian. How do I protect others from getting it? Or should I not have sex at all?

HPV is the most common sexually transmitted virus. It is estimated that 75-80% of people will have HPV sometime in their lifetime. Also, 90% of HPV infections clear on their own. It is not unlikely that any of your future partners have been with partners who had HPV or have HPV themselves. Only a small number of women infected with HPV develop cell changes that need to be treated. Only rarely does the presence of HPV lead to cervical cancer and when it does, it takes many, many years to develop. Transmission can occur during direct skin-to-skin contact with the mucous membranes or the skin covering the genitals, perineum, anus, or upper thigh which can happen during genital-to genital contact. Though it is rare, HPV can be transmitted through oral sex. But it’s important to remember, oral sex is common, HPV-related oral diseases are not. Manual stimulation using hands or other parts of the body does not pose any risk of transmission.

That being said, it’s important to just have a conversation with your future partners and give them the facts and make a decision together. If you are worried about transmission and would like to use some form of protection, dental dams (small latex sheet), a condom cut open length-wise, or saran wrap may offer some protection. Also, abstaining from sex when or if warts are present may reduce transmission. Though abstaining from sex would be the only 100% chance of not transmitting HPV, many people with HPV continue to have healthy sexual lives after diagnosis

Click here for an FAQ page about HPV and here for tips on how to talk to your partner about your HPV diagnosis. Also look on the sidebar for other topics related to HPV.

--The NCCC Staff

HPV Transmission and Objects


Are HPV infections acquired from bathrooms, towels, and so on?
Most experts believe HPV transmission from inanimate objects is rare. Certainly there is no reason for concern over the types of interactions people commonly think about when asking this question, such as using a bathroom, tub or shower, or a swimming pool or hot tub. Sex toys pose a theoretical risk, so a common sense approach makes sense: clean sex toys thoroughly after each use and do not share, especially when lesions are present. 
-- The NCCC Staff