I was into my new boyfriend and wanted to keep my birth control prescription, so I went to the doctor for my annual physical. My results came back as abnormal, so my primary care doctor sent me to a gynecologist.

I arrived at the gynecologist and she reviewed my pap results.

I told him about the pronouncement of HPV and the biopsy that followed.

hpv warts and dating-38hpv warts and dating-69hpv warts and dating-24

She asked if I had known they were there and I said no.

If you have sex with 20 people, you will get genital warts. My pillows had seen more than a few DIY haircuts when I saw something downtown, too: bumps. Genital warts, to be honest, but I wasn’t ready to be. See, in high school, I would sneak into the gym during assemblies for fear that one of the older girls would yell “slut!! At art school, there were endless hipster boys and girls doing the same, moving in and out of each other’s beds (or mattresses on the floor) fluidly. My gym teachers had taught me about “STDs” as a scare tactic, going over symptoms with thinly veiled disgust. I was ready to settle in for a month of movies and prescription cream before bed when I got an unexpected call from my doctor.

She then said something like, “oh, I see you have HPV,” then moved on to another topic.

I stopped her with my loud and confused reply of “huh? My gynecologist didn’t give me much information about it, so I went home and started to research HPV.

If too many cells changed for the worse, I was going to have a LEEP procedure.

This is where an electrical current cuts out all the abnormal cells so that they can’t become cancerous.

The doctor was perfectly nice, but the voices in my head remained. But I wasn’t actually a slut until college when I embraced pro-sex feminism a little blindly, veering more towards hedonism. The abstinence-only education I received in school in no way prepared me for the real life sex I would have—sometimes unprotected when drunk and sloppy or sober and shy. My friends weren’t much help either, laughing or leaving an awkward silence between us as I told them what was going on.

I didn’t want to think that I could get an STI—it was that whole “but it can’t happen to me” cliché. I put my legs in the stirrups, feeling like I was opening myself up to judgment and ridicule. But I got the meds I needed, along with some verbal lacerations from Mom about my lifestyle.

It is the planet’s most common sexually transmitted infection. The weird thing is that men don’t seem to know about HPV.