Real People Stories- Magdala Mora

I barely turned 30, and following the STD Gynaecologist’s recommendation, I asked for an HPV test. She was not vaccinated and wanted it just because of the routine. Well, that quiet routine exam gave a positive result for HPV 16 in October 2023. My eyes watered, I couldn’t believe it, and I just thought: no more sex life… cancer… death.

I ran to Spotify to devour all the existing podcasts and even saved the episodes to create a Playlist with the 17 I managed to review. The conclusion: you are not going to die, don’t worry, at least not for now, but remember that HPV 16 is one of the most lethal strains [along with strain 18], with about 70% influence on possible cancer.

Taking Action: Facing the Diagnosis

After immersing myself in that world of information from experts and non-experts, talking to my friends with whom I discovered the high percentage of the virus. Who gave me some peace of mind by telling me that this happened to all of you at least once in life, now the most important thing was to take action. Have a new appointment to schedule a colposcopy and wait for the biopsy result. I left the exam impressed; I had never seen my cervix of that magnitude before, and with a fraternal hug from the doctor telling me: don’t worry, here we are going to heal together. It was almost four weeks of anguish until the day the results were delivered, which was in person.

They found no injury, fortunately. This means that my body will take care of everything from that moment on, and I will take care of the most difficult part: reconciling myself with feminine pleasure, sexual health and a new year of waiting for that “routine exam.”

Paula Hernandez

Now, I know it’s not the end of the world.

Seven years ago, I had my first irregular cytology. It mentioned squamous cells, but there were no lesions. My first reaction at that moment, I remember, was very angry. I had ended a relationship that didn’t tend well at all. The STD result was the same the following year, but the colposcopies they performed on me were fine. Although he was under control and observation, there was never much concern, and then, for several years, the cytology tests returned normal.

But at the end of 2022, again, I got squamous cells. On that occasion, they sent me a biopsy and an HPV-DNA test. I felt a lot of anxiety. I thought about cancer; I thought: how do I tell this to my parents?

At that time, I was in a stable relationship, and the STD exam result seemed strange. One does not know that HPV can be there for a long time and suddenly manifest itself. And although my partner understood, supported me and even took tests, I felt bad. Where was that emotional pain coming from?

Impact of Past Medical Experiences

Then, with the help of my psychologist, I remembered that before, during a colposcopy, a gynaecologist did the STD exam and told me: “You have some spots, and that could be a warning that you may have HPV. But that wasn’t enough for him. He told me: “here are terrible cases in which women…” and he told me horrendous stories about rape, bad smells and cancer. That experience created terror and prejudice in me that I didn’t have towards HPV.

Fortunately, the gynaecologist who read the result of the HPV cancer test confirmed that I did have it. And provided information about the strain. (it was one of the high-risk ones against which I had not been vaccinated). Calming me down and giving me all the necessary information. More tac, and more humanity on the part of the doctors.

I have a follow-up STD appointment in a few days but already feel calm. I hope the exams go well, but now I know it’s not the end of the world.

Alice

Initial Diagnosis and Treatment

Good morning. It is the first time I write. During a routine gynaecological examination 4 years ago, I, at 42 years old, received a diagnosis of HPV. Several strains, including 16, tested positive. They referred me to the oncogene at the 12 de Octubre hospital in Madrid for follow-up. After tests, they diagnosed me with low-grade SIL. I underwent treatment to remove condylomas on the vagina, lip, and entrance to the anus. They recommended vaccination, and I completed my doses of Gardasil.

I have had a stable partner since June 2017, and they have always told me that he does not need any follow-up, STD tests, or treatment. In one of the check-ups in 2018, altered cells appeared. And the final result was high-grade SIL, so they performed a conization in November of that same year, and everything went well. In the post-conization review at 6 months (summer 2019), it seems that everything was fine in the vagina. What remained of the cervix, but in the anal cytology, abnormal results came out, and after performing anoscopy and biopsy, they diagnosed a low-grade lesion.

Ongoing Monitoring and Challenges

I had a new check-up scheduled for November 2019. Two days ago, the hospital called me again to inform me that there were altered cells in the anal cytoplasm, and they needed to repeat an anoscopy to discard them. I have read your STD testimonies and decided to write, on the one hand, to vent since I have been dealing with this issue for a long time, and I see there is no way to end it.

On the other hand, I would like to know if there is anyone with an STD case similar to mine who can share their experience. I read that there are medications to treat HPV, both for men and women (papulosis and papillary), and I was unaware of this. I have always insisted on the risks for my partner and whether he should have any tests, and they never give it any importance at the hospital. He already experienced vasocellular skin cancer, for which he received treatment in 2018 (at 40 years old). We continue to monitor him, and the truth is that we are quite sensitized to this issue.

Thank you for reading me and much encouragement to everyone.