Can You Have Sex If You Have HPV?

If you’re diagnosed with a sexually transmitted infection (STI) like chlamydia or gonorrhea, doctors usually advise abstaining from all forms of sex until treatment is complete. With HPV, that advice is a bit more complicated.

Fortunately, there are vaccines that can help prevent HPV. And condoms and dental dams can also provide some protection.

What is HPV?

HPV is a virus that causes genital warts, abnormal Pap tests, and cervical cancer. It is very common and most people will get it at some point in their lives. Most people who have HPV do not know they have it. They may only find out if they have visible genital warts or an abnormal Pap test result.

There are more than 100 types of HPV. Most types do not cause health problems, but some can. Types 16 and 18 are the most likely to cause genital warts and cancer of the cervix, vagina, or anus in women. They can also spread to other parts of the body, especially when close skin-to-skin contact is made during sex. It is not known how easily HPV can be spread in men, but it can probably happen when a penis comes into contact with areas of the vulva or anus.

The best way to protect against HPV is the vaccine. Vaccination is recommended for all preteens, starting at age 11 or 12. It can also be given to adults up through age 45. Other ways to reduce your risk are using barrier methods (condoms) during sex, and not sharing sexual toys. Use a dental dam or plastic wrap instead of a condom during oral sex to help create a barrier.

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How do I get HPV?

People get HPV by having close skin-to-skin contact with an infected person. This most commonly happens during vaginal, anal, or oral sex. People can also get HPV by having non-sexual contact such as a kiss or hug, or when a contaminated object touches the anal area.

There are over 100 different types of HPV. Some of these can cause problems like genital warts and certain cancers. Some HPV infections clear on their own in one or two years. But, it’s important to see a doctor if you have symptoms that don’t go away. Some high risk types of HPV that remain in the body for years can lead to abnormal cells and cause cancer, or cause genital warts.

A medically accurate sex education program can help people understand what they need to do to keep safe. The vaccines for HPV prevent a lot of types of cancer, as well as genital warts. People should talk to their doctor about getting a vaccine before they start dating.

It’s also a good idea to plan and practice how to talk about sex and HPV with a partner. Choosing a time and place to have this conversation when both people are calm can help. It’s also important to be respectful and not react with anger or judgment. If someone feels unsafe during a conversation, they should leave and seek help.

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Can I have sex if I have HPV?

Whenever someone tests positive for a sexually transmitted infection (STI), doctors will often tell them to abstain from sex until their treatment is over. This is because HPV can be spread through skin-to-skin contact during vaginal, oral, or anal sex, and some strains of the virus can lead to genital warts and cancer.

However, since the majority of HPV infections are self-resolving, most people can continue to have sex as long as they take some precautions and are transparent with their partners about their status. The key is to talk with your doctor about the specifics of your case and get personalized recommendations for your situation.

When it comes to sex, most people will not get the genital wart-causing types of HPV through skin-to-skin contact (unless they are in long-term monogamous relationships and share a toothbrush). This is because sex with multiple partners increases your risk of getting the STIs that can cause genital warts, and sex with just one partner can still cause some forms of HPV.

Additionally, many people can have sex without causing any symptoms of HPV because the symptoms only appear when certain types of the virus have mutated into precancerous cells. If you do develop symptoms, your doctor may recommend that you take a pap smear every three years to catch these cells as early as possible.

Can I have sex if my partner has HPV?

HPV can spread through any skin-to-skin contact — including vaginal, oral or anal sex and even foreplay. Condoms can help lower the risk, but they don’t protect against all types of HPV. Having sex always carries some risk; it’s up to you and your partner to decide how much risk you’re willing to take.

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The type of HPV that’s infected can determine whether it causes genital warts or precancerous cells, and some strains of HPV may cause cancer. However, most people who get HPV have a low-risk virus that will clear on its own. If you have a low-risk strain of HPV, you can still have sex with your partners as long as you use protection and you both get routine pap smears and STI screening.

HPV is the most common STI, and it’s not a sign of unfaithfulness or promiscuity. Most sexually active people will get it at some point. If your partner has a low-risk strain of HPV, they can still have sex with you as long as they use protection and get regular pap smears and a full STI screen. Then, if they’re diagnosed with genital warts or precancerous cell development, you can help them plan for treatment and work together to prevent their virus from spreading to other partners. It’s also important to talk openly about the diagnosis with your partner.

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