My First Planned Parenthood Experience: Part 3

You can read Part 2 here.

I had my follow-up appointment following my HPV diagnosis yesterday.  I was scheduled for a culposcopy and possible biopsies if the gynecologist found any abnormal cells.  Until yesterday morning, I had a pretty ambivalent attitude towards the appointment.

My thoughts went something alone these lines:  I have an STI.  Unfortunately, my STI is not one that I can just take an antibiotic and it will go away.  HPV is a virus.  I have no control over which strain I was exposed to.  I was concentrating on being as healthy and stress-free as possible so that my body could fight the virus better.   I thought that I had reached a point of acceptance.

Even though I had spent at least 8 hours researching HPV, reading about statistics, and learning as much as I possibly could about it, I woke up yesterday morning and was terrified.  I know that several women on my mother’s side of the family have had complications due to cervical cancer.  While I know that cervical cancer is caused by particular strains of HPV, I couldn’t help but wonder if there is a genetic component to the cancer as well, if there was some way to be more prone to HPV turning into cervical cancer.

I spent at least an hour crying in bed, with Fiance comforting me.  He has really been amazing through all of this.  I expected him to be just as stressed as me.  After all, we haven’t used a barrier method in a long time, and if I have HPV, it means that he does too.  Instead, he took the diagnosis in stride, and focused his efforts on comforting me.  My dear friends wrote uplifting and encouraging things when I confessed my anxiety.  Thank you, girls, it really meant a lot to me.

The culposcopy was similar to a really long pap smear.  Unlike with a pap, the gynecologist did not use any lubrication when inserting the speculum, and the speculum was opened a bit wider than normal, which was uncomfortable.  The gynecologist cleaned my cervix with a saline solution, and then she placed a cotton ball soaked with vinegar against my cervix.  The cotton ball was so cold!

The vinegar will apparently react with any abnormal cells, and make it easier for the gynecologist to see if the virus is creating warts, or, worse, cysts and pre-cancerous growths.  She then used a culposcope, which is similar to a microscope, to examine my cervix.

I am sure you can imagine my relief when the gynecologist told me that she didn’t see any abnormal cells, and I didn’t need to have any biopsies performed.  She was pretty surprised herself, and told me that this only happens about 1 in 20 times that she does a culposcopy.  She did, however, take a sample of the cells inside my cervix, which will be tested.  I’ll receive the results in about two weeks.

I want to reiterate that without Planned Parenthood, I wouldn’t have been able to receive this sort of screening without basically going hungry for a couple of weeks.  Please, if you have the chance and the liquidity, consider donating to Planned Parenthood.  Your donations help women and men receive vital sexual health care and information.  It certainly helped me.

Posted on August 15, 2012, in Contraception, Dating, Sexually Transmitted Infections and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

  1. Hang in there! Your chances are good that it could be a minor strain. I did a lot of research into HPV myself when they came out with the vaccine and there were some iffy allergic reactions. There are SO many strains and only a small percentage of them are possibly linked to cancer. Also, and I will have to look this up again, but I read someone that every one in two people have HPV, so you are NOT alone! Hope everything turns out fine, and that until then you will be able to take comfort in the support group around you.

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