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Dr. Pfeiffer
Dr. Pfeiffer, Doctor
Category: OB GYN
Satisfied Customers: 5987
Experience:  Ob/Gyn Doctor
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How long after exposure to HPV would abnormal cells appear

Resolved Question:

How long after exposure to HPV would abnormal cells appear on the cervix? Can endometriosis and its symptoms also indicate cervical cancer if tests for the former came back inconclusive years ago? I am 40.
Submitted: 7 years ago.
Category: OB GYN
Expert:  Dr. Pfeiffer replied 7 years ago.

generally speaking an active HPV infection will produce abnormal cells on a pap test anywhere from 3-24 months. I know this is a wide range, but the problem is a woman may have had HPV for years before there an 'active' infection...meaning the virus has the opportunity to invade cells. One risk factor for abnormal pap tests is a new partner in the last 3-6 months, so that's what I generally use as a rough guideline to make a time line. Again though, HPV is tricky because it isn't overly aggressive and doesn't stimulate the immune system very well. For those reasons, nobody really knows how long the virus has been present in a woman...or when it became 'active'.

Dr. Pfeiffer

Customer: replied 7 years ago.
ok, well, I am also really concerned about cervical cancer. About three years ago I started having a continuous period, like 24 days of bleeding a few days off. At the time, they suspected endometreosis, and did an internal ultrasound, only to determine that they didn't think there was too much going on. The contniuous periods lasted a few more months, and now I am back to the usual, which has become a 23 to 28 day cycle, with one month being SUPER heavy, not much pain or other issues, one month being REALLY painful, sometimes heavy, sometimes light, and the next being light, less painful, but really tired, and then that three-different months cycle starts all over again. I excused it as early menopause. I have also had strange, sharp pains, about twice a month, not associated with my period or ovulation, in what I thought was my bladder, but now I fear was my cervix, given their close proximity. I also bleed at ovulation. I know this is a lot to ask, but I don't have health insurance, and I have to wait weeks for the colposcopy and my next opportunity to talk to someone at planned parenthood, where I am having the colposcopy done.

Thank you so much for your precious reply. I hope I haven't asked too much. I am really, really reeling from this.
Expert:  Dr. Pfeiffer replied 7 years ago.

OK. an abnormal pap test progressing to cervical cancer generally takes a long time - average is 10 years. Therefore, if you have never had an abnormal pap test it would be extremely rare that you had cancer. Cervical cancer also does not typically present with the symptoms you have/had as the bleeding is typically associated with intercourse....and, there is typically something that you can see or feel when one does a pap test. Also, an ASCUS pap test actually being cancer is extremely unlikely....the way I know you have an ASCUS pap is that is the only result that HPV test is done automatically. Don't worry yourself too much about cancer, just keep your appointments so that this is taken care of properly.

Dr. Pfeiffer

Customer: replied 7 years ago.
I guess why I am so worried is that my first boyfriend, 17 years ago, whom I was with for 9 years had told me that he had been with a girl before me who had been positive for HPV. We were always careful (condoms, hormone based birth control, and spermicidal products, all used together... I feared pregnancy at the time). The abnormal menstrual cycle, with the exception of the last 8 months, was all during a time I was 100% abstinent. I know chances are that I contracted HPV in the last 8 months, since I only started being sexually active then (prior to that it had been 5 years of no sexual activity).

Don't worry, I plan to keep the appointments.

Since I have a high risk strain of HPV, should I abstain from sexual activity for the rest of my life?

Sorry to ask so many questions. I appreciate your help. I noticed on your profile that you are a D.O. I have a high regard for D.O.'s. I have a dear friend who is in her residencey after graduation from a School of Osteopathic Medicine. The philosophy that Osteopathic medicine practitioners adhere to is what I admire the most.
Expert:  Dr. Pfeiffer replied 7 years ago.

This is a topic of debate....should a woman tell her partner that she has/had HPV? That's an individual decision that I think the most ethical answer is yes, but again, it's not my decision. Absolutely no reason to abstain from intercourse at all -

thanks for the kind words.

Dr. Pfeiffer

Customer: replied 7 years ago.
Oh, I would always tell any partner of any sexually transmitted disease I might have, its the responsible thing, and morally and ethically correct. Have a good night Dr. Pfeiffer

Expert:  Dr. Pfeiffer replied 7 years ago.

you too..take care and good luck

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