Ask the Doctors: Did I Already Have HPV or Did My Partner Cheat?

Is this something that can really be dormant in your system for years (close to 30 to be exact) before finally showing a positive test result? All prior tests were negative. Does this mean that my partner has been unfaithful? I’ve read that some people have it for years, but as long as 30? Can’t seem to get an answer from my nurse.
— Suspicious

Yes, HPV (Human Papilloma virus, sometimes also known as genital warts) is much like herpes in this respect — it really can hang out in the body for many, many years. Then stress, ill health or sometimes just seemingly the physical changes associated with aging can make it express itself and cause noticeable symptoms. If you have just recently begun to show HPV-associated symptoms, please make sure to get a good physical just to make sure there isn’t anything else going on with you, health-wise.

None of this is to say that your partner has definitely not been unfaithful; that is one possibility. I don’t know that there is a test to find out definitively when you might have first been exposed to HPV. But it certainly is possible for you to have gotten it long ago.

We’re dedicated to getting you the information you need about sex, pleasure and your health. If you have any questions, please email our staff experts, Dr. Carol Queen and Dr. Charlie Glickman, at! For product-related questions, please email or call our customer service staff at


Good Vibrations

Good Vibrations is the premiere sex-positive, women-principled adult toy retailer in the US. An iconic brand and one of the world's first sex toy shops to focus specifically on women's pleasure and sexual education, Good Vibrations was founded by Joani Blank in 1977 to provide women with a safe, welcoming and non-judgmental place to shop for erotic toys. Good Vibrations has always included all people across the gender spectrum, and is a place where customers can come for education, high quality products, and information promoting sexual health, pleasure and empowerment. Customers can shop Good Vibrations' expertly curated product selection across any of its nine retail locations or on the website, where they can also find a wealth of information pertaining to sexual pleasure, exploration and education.

You may also like...