Real People Stories – Alexander

I had sex with HPV (genital warts). I found out from an STD test that the sex I had that was unprotected was not good. And I had sex with my partner before the diagnosis. And I was unsure of how I got it. I feel worse than I’ve ever felt in my life because of my ignorance and poor decision-making. If you are ever in the same boat as me, here are some tips, thoughts, and positive perspectives.

Ignorance and Assumptions

I had unprotected sex with my partner with growths on my penis that I just found out were HPV. Because of my heritage and complexion, my family has a history of beauty marks and moles. I didn’t think anything of it at first because I was uninformed and ASSUMED that any STD that has physical effects would also have other effects, like sickness, etc. And I assumed that if I had an STI, I would FEEL different in addition to having this physical change. I was wrong. If you are unsure about changes to your body, see an STD doctor, especially if you are having unprotected sex.

The Overwhelming Shame

Knowing what I now know, I feel shame and regret that I can’t put into words. I should have known better. We discussed STDs constructively, but I feel incredibly ashamed of myself. At this moment, I cannot look anyone in the face. I don’t want to leave my room. And I don’t want to go to work tomorrow. I feel regretful, dirty, and overwhelmingly stupid. Other than what I did, if YOU ever get HPV and do the right thing, you SHOULD NOT feel this way (more on that in a bit).

Partner’s Abnormal Pap exams

About my partner: She’s had abnormal STD paps for the past 2 years but never reported anything to me. I’ve noticed these warts recently, which leads to the next point.

Uncertainty About Transmission

I’m unsure if I just gave her HPV OR if she had given it to me in the past year. Or if we got it from past partners and never knew (most likely case). My research, talks with my doc, and all the Reddit threads I’ve read have informed me that HPV is SUPER COMMON. So common that it’s like “the common cold of STDs”. My doctor was so lax about it when he told me. As lax as if he told me I had dandruff. When I signed up for my blood work, he asked if I wanted STD screenings added — as if the HPV he just diagnosed was nothing to be worried about! He barely talked about it after the diagnosis.

We talked about other stuff, and when he asked if I had any questions, I pressed on HPV again because I was so taken aback that he didn’t give me more advice, reprimand me, or warn me about what life would be like (as if I had something life-threatening). He made it seem as common, normal, or non-threatening as clearing up a scrape on my knee. But he just told me I should tell my partner about it, get a prescription filled to clear it, and that’s it. He didn’t say it was good, bad, or really anything.

Low-Risk Strain and Treatment

Since I have the genital wart kind, I know (at least for me as a man) it’s fairly low risk. I am taking treatment that should clear the cosmetic aspects of it. If the treatment goes well, it’ll clear up and should be “fine”. I’ve read that low-risk kind WILL NOT lead to cancer (for me).

Reassessing the Relationship

Going back to my partner, I know we probably already had it — based on my site research. The fact is, neither of us had it, gave it to each other, and since he both shared it, the last 2 years of unprotected sex was a “non-issue”, so to speak, because we couldn’t make it worse — especially since I have the “low-risk” kind. Most partners have had a positive test for HPV. They essentially “share” it. And if you both have it and share it, it won’t get worse. You can’t have MORE of it or a worse version of whatever you share.

A lot of what I read states, “If you’re having sex, you probably have it, you and your partner probably share it already, and it’s not a big deal unless your doctor shows you proof that it’s not, until then, keep having sex like it’s no big deal — even though this seems like very weird advice”.

But obviously, telling her after the fact was terrible. I should have said something sooner. Some of you might shame me, point out my obvious errors, and say bad things. That’s fine, and I will understand if that’s what you want to do. You can’t beat me up more than I have already.

Having it isn’t “bad.”

Having HPV isn’t “bad”, isn’t a life or death sentence, and isn’t a mark on your character (although doing what I did IS a mark on MY character). If you’re having sex, you will most likely get it. Or you have it already and may not show STD symptoms. You might have had it, passed it to someone, and cleared it from your system without knowing. My symptoms (the warts) probably only cropped up because I’ve been stressed at work, not eating well, and not sleeping well. The same might happen to you if something similar happens.

Some of the research I did, and you will come across this, too, makes HPV sound like nothing. It’s as common and as much of a non-issue as getting a cold. Or that it’s something inevitable and easy to get past, like chicken pox. We all get it at some point. It’ll be a nuisance, and then you’re done. You get your infection merit badge. Here’s a cookie.

Community Support and Perspective

I wrote this to speak openly about my mistake, get honest feedback from a community, and help others who might have done the same thing but are too ashamed to talk about it.

The overwhelming tone of most of what I’ve seen is that:

  1. It is generally not bad
  2. In the most common cases, An STD is a cosmetic nuisance but should be addressed between you and your partner.
  3. If you think you gave someone HPV, do not beat yourself up. It is so common that almost everyone will get it and pass it on to someone. It’s incredibly common and nearly “normal” to have/give.
  4. It is mostly a concern if you have a cancer-related strain, but you will know that if you get screened regularly.
  5. For women, there is STD testing. Pap tests and the like. I haven’t done much research as I am not a woman, but there are tests your doctor can administer for you. If you feel like you might have an STD, please talk to your doctor about it. Women are at a higher risk for cancer if they get HPV tests. From what I read, the wart kind DOES NOT lead to cancer, but of course, screen yourself appropriately.


In general, an overwhelming amount of data that I’ve read suggests that the genital wart strain of HPV is nothing to worry about and mostly INEVITABLE. If you’re a sexually active person, you’re going to get an STD at some point. Your body will fight it off, or you can get treatment to clear it up faster, and you’re fine. This brings up another weird thing I read more than once: When you get warts, you COULD just let them go away. That sounds wild, but multiple sources said that. It sounds weird that an STD can be treated with an amount of non-care, like a pimple, but the data is there.

You aren’t alone if you have HPV. Again, nearly EVERY sexually active person has it. But when you first get it, it’s hard to talk about. This will most likely be the first STI you ever have. If you’ve never had one, how do you talk about it? If you’re in America, there is a huge stigma against STDs. It seems overwhelming to have an STD or anything you’re unfamiliar with. Don’t feel that way. Talk about it.