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You Asked: I Think I Have an STI

Dear Sugar,

A friend of mine called me tonight to tell me I needed to get checked for an STI. She and I both had unprotected sex with the same guy, and her recent pap came back irregular. She hasn't been told what it is yet, but I'm worried that I have whatever it is. I've also had sex with two other people since him, so should I tell them about this or should I wait to see what happens? I have the worst pit in my stomach and I can't get in to see my doctor until the end of next week. I'm petrified that whatever it is will be something that will make it impossible for me to have a normal life with a husband and kids in the future. Am I overreacting? Please tell me anything you can! — Panicking Penelope

To see DearSugar's answer,


Dear Panicking Penelope,

Before jumping to any conclusions, you need to get answers. Since you can't get an appointment until the end of next week, ask to be put on your doctor's wait list. If you feel comfortable, find out if you can see his or her nurse practitioner so you can get tested. I can only imagine what must be going through your head right now, so try to get your peace of mind as soon as you can.

In the meantime, be mindful of the fact that your friend could have contracted her STI from any one of her partners. Just because her most recent pap was irregular, it doesn't necessarily mean that she got it from the partner you have in common. While I do appreciate your desire to tell your recent sexual partners of this potential news, I'd wait until you know for sure that there's something to tell. There's no use worrying them prematurely.

Though STIs carry a negative stigma, it is possible to have a completely normal relationship and sex life with an STI (while being very careful and using protection, of course). If the results do in fact confirm that you have an STI, get all the facts from your doctor and proceed from there. It can be difficult to tell new partners — or past partners that could have been exposed — about your news, but it's critical that you do so they can take the appropriate steps to get treated if need be. It's not unusual to experience a plethora of emotions ranging from shock to sadness after contracting an STI, so I suggest talking to a therapist or trusted friend if you need a sounding board or help accepting the news. Good luck to you.


lilCROAT03 lilCROAT03 9 years
WAIT! STOP! An abnormal pap smear isn't ALWAYS caused by HPV. let me clear some things up. abnormal pap smears can be caused by something as harmless as a yeast infection or even less so, simple inflammation that could be from a recent romp in the sack (possibly 48 hr prior to your exam). Other reasons could include: herpes, trichomonas, and use of vaginal products like douche. while HPV is a COMMON culprit of abnormal paps, further testing has to be done in order to prove that it is indeed HPV. it's not as easy as wham, bam you've got HPV. this is new and of course people have been sensationalizing this as an epidemic (you know, the people who made the HPV shot DO want your money). girls don't worry yourselves sick! if you do have HPV there are treatments and it doesn't always mean you're going to have cervical cancer. be happy you were tested early and prevented a life threatening disease.
courtneyh courtneyh 9 years
HAHAHAH. i was like, why would you sleep with a guy your friend did? Oh ya.....threesome
RockAndRepublic RockAndRepublic 9 years
Well, i hope you learned a big lesson. One that has been taught for many years...
Tassie Tassie 9 years
I agree with most of the above, protection, don't sleep around etc. BUT in answer to the actual question, a pap smear can give abnormal results for a number of reasons. I was told once mine came back irregular due to a yeast infection - a follow up was clean. I think even recent sex can give an abnormal result. So while things may come back bad, don't panic until you know for certain. Meanwhile, maybe try to be safer next time, and you'll avoid a tonne of worry.
lms lms 9 years
Maybe they had a threesome. That is the first thing that came to my mind.
AmandaKrups AmandaKrups 9 years
Just so you all know, you CAN get HPV even if you used a condom. Condoms don't cover everything, and you don't put them on the second you get naked anyway. But obviously you should use a condom every time you have sex.
subtleheights subtleheights 9 years
yeah right! boyfriend my behind. it still surprises me that adults walk around thinking that they are invincible and nothing bad will happen to them. when are you people gonna learn? and then we must be sympathetic to your dumbness? STOP! thinking you are the hottest thing around and that SEX! is the greatest thing to be had!!! if you could care less about the outcome, don't come cry here. suck it up!! and try keeping your leggies closed for a bit. i do understand a person can be monogomous also and their partner mess up, but dont go out there and do this to yourself. is it worth the headache? are any of those guys worth it?
skigurl skigurl 9 years
oh come on guys. stop with the "don't sleep around" lecture! seriously! we're adults! maybe it was her boyfriend or something!
sparklestar sparklestar 9 years
Agreed popgoestheworld! Why would you need to tell the two following guys after that partner? Because you didn't use condoms with them either? More to the point... why are you and your friend sharing guys? Ick.
popgoestheworld popgoestheworld 9 years
Life isn't without consequences. If you are going to sleep with people without condoms, you might have to wait a week to find out if they gave you diseases. What is this you say? I can't have instant gratification? I'm tired of people like the poster. Grow up and start taking responsibility for what you are doing instead of whining about your stupid decisions.
bluestar bluestar 9 years
Don't tell the other guys until you know for need to freak them out yet! Get tested and if you do have one, take care of it and let them know. Start taking care of yourself after this (use a condom). Good luck!
jessie jessie 9 years
this is your wake up call! good luck to you, wish you the best and hope your outcome is okay. :)
girlnone girlnone 9 years
You really, really need to consider using a condom the next time you have sex. And by "consider," I mean "absolutely, without exception, use protection!!!!" I know you're scared, and I don't want to make you feel worse by telling you what you should have done differently, but you need to protect yourself, especially if you're having sex with multiple partners.
Jmartens Jmartens 9 years
Dang, stop sleeping around and dont' share lovers with your friend. Thats just wrong!
kiwitwist kiwitwist 9 years
well said pumpkin!
meetmeherelater meetmeherelater 9 years
first of all. dont have unprotected sex. second, if you think you should tell these two other guys, are you saying you had unprotected sex with them too? like the first person said, i really hope you learn your lesson.
Martini-Rossi Martini-Rossi 9 years
Amen @ Pumpkin81
chatondeneige chatondeneige 9 years
pumpkin81 said it all!
pumpkin81 pumpkin81 9 years
An irregular pap test is caused by Human Papilloma Virus (HPV), a group of viruses that can cause cervical cancer. You should have the full battery of normal STI tests (which, in most cases, includes a pap smear and cultures for chlamydia and gonorrhea). Since you think you are at risk for HPV, you could ask to receive a blood test to see if you've been exposed to the virus. You should also be tested for HIV. If you are concerned, you could also get blood tests for herpes simplex virus and syphilis, although it is rarely recommended if there are no symptoms. If you have been exposed to HPV, bear in mind that many women are exposed and fight off the virus without ever having cervical cancer. Also, development of cervical cancer is a very slow process (years) so you have plenty of time to catch any abnormal changes early and to have them treated. But, I hope you use this scare as a lesson - stop having unprotected casual sex! Use a condom every time until you are in a longterm relationship where you can both be tested.
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