Dear Dr. Christina,
Last week I went to my first gynecologist exam that my mom scheduled for me. Four weeks later, my doctor’s office called and told me I had an abnormal pap smear with the high risk Human Papilloma Virus (HPV). I’m not even sure what that is! A few months ago, I went out with my friends to a local party held by one of my high school classmates and got caught up with peer pressure. I began drinking beer and had sex for the first time. I am not sure what to do with the phone call I got from the doctor’s office because I know my parents will be so disappointed with me. I know this will sound so dumb but, you see, I am “daddy’s little girl.” I am so freaked out. I decided to write to you to help me.
I know how frightened you are. I would like to express to you that you are not alone. A lot of girls in high school face this same situation. The fact that you were brave enough to go to the gynecologist in the first place tells me that you know how important your health is to you. There will be a number of other tests your doctor will have to do to take care of you. Since you are probably under your parents’ insurance, they will know if you have a problem and the need for further testing—just due to the billing of your insurance. Because your medical bill needs to be paid, there will be no getting around that. [A pap smear is only a screening test. More specific tests will need to be done to help take care of you.]
Please don’t plan not to tell your parents or guardians or try to run away from this situation as if it never happened. When you go back to your doctor’s office, both you and your doctor can help you make the decision on how to best tell your parents.
- Do you tell your mom first privately, or your dad?
- Do you tell your parents to go with you to your doctor’s visit and discuss it all together with the doctor?
- Do you have the doctor tell your parents privately while you are in another room?
What is so good about having this explanation done at your doctor’s office is that the doctor can act as a buffer or your advocate in discussing what needs to be done. In other words, the doctor can talk to your parent/parents and explain to them about HPV and that it is a quite common infection that girls /women/ boys/men can get with sexual relations.
While the doctor cannot intervene with your parents’ feelings about you having sex, the doctor can help your parents understand that it does no good to scream at you if they want to help you while you recover. Most parents do not want to make this HPV virus worse, no matter what you have done. The doctor can help them understand the importance of this. Parents do not want their daughter to get so stressed out that it can make this virus harder to treat. In other words, the doctor can help to focus your parents on helping you stay calm so you can go through the process of treatment and prevent reinfection.
You may also feel like you want to tell someone like your Best Friends Forever (BFFs), because you are afraid and want to talk to someone about it. STOP! Do not talk to them about it. I have seen too many occasions where your friend/friends someday may get mad at you and, before you know it, your biggest secret will be texted everywhere and may potentially end up on Facebook. All telling them may do is raise your stress levels, something you don’t want to do while you’re healing.
One other thing you have to take into consideration is the person who gave you this virus. If you have been having sex with more than one partner, it may be more difficult to figure out who it is. Many boys and men will deny any inquiry or accusation because they cannot see a sore/wart on their penis. Even if they went to their doctors, their own doctors may say to them that there is nothing wrong with them. Boys and men, just as women and girls, may be carriers. Unfortunately, with HPV, we can’t see it with the naked eye. There is no blood test or test for males. Usually boys/men will not get cancer of their sexual organs as a result of it. When doctors do a pap test on girls/ women, that’s where they find the abnormal cells and the virus.
Before you confront your sexual partner(s) about this situation, discuss this with your doctor too. I am sorry to have to say that if you accuse your sexual partner(s), he/they may turn around and call you names such as “slut” or “whore”. Please do not believe them. They are only lashing out at you so that you are the one who feels guilty, so they don’t have to. Please do not take anything they may say personally. Let your doctor and maybe your parent(s) help you make the decision about how you are going to handle your sexual partner(s), since he is a carrier of the HPV infection.
Parents can oftentimes understand how an innocent girl/boy may feel forced by peer pressure to do things they normally would never do, including having sex, drinking alcohol and taking drugs. There are many people, including your parents, who can understand your dilemma and what happened in this situation.
This is quite a lesson you have learned, unfortunately the hard way. I believe when you have to face this type of stress, of having this type of infection, you will have learned a valuable lesson about “keeping up with the Jones” or the price of giving in to “peer pressure.”
Every one of us makes mistakes or the wrong choices or, for that matter, has been in the wrong place at the wrong time, just like you. Whether we are adults or teenagers your age, it happens to us all from time to time. Learn from this lesson and learn to forgive yourself, and, most likely, you will not ever repeat this again.
Now is a time for you to learn about this HPV virus STD (sexually transmitted disease) and how to protect yourself.
This is about being proactive with your own healthcare. If there are any questions you may have or if you have looked up your infection on the Internet, make a list of questions to bring to your doctor’s office to discuss during your appointment and make sure you understand how to protect yourself and how to participate in your own treatment.
As you continue to have sexual relationships, the use of condoms will be extremely important. Never give in to your boyfriend/sexual partner if he expresses he hates the feeling of condoms. This is about you, your protection, and not acquiring another STD or, for that matter, getting pregnant. I also have patients who say, “We didn’t have intercourse. He pulled out and didn’t come inside me.” They believe that, “That is not sex.” That is so not true. That is a myth. The truth is that yes you can get an STD like HPV—and also get pregnant even if he does pull out.
I know you are frightened, but I also know that you were strong enough to write to me. I know you can do this. You will be taken care of by your doctor and soon all of this will pass.
You have such a bright future. You need support and teamwork from your doctor, and hopefully your family, right now in order for to get you through these temporary tough times.
My sincerest best wishes for your treatment, your peace of mind, and to your phenomenal future.
- Posted By: DRC Editor
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