She is clean and I am dirty."I read up on genital warts, but even though I learned that they are among the most common of all STIs, cause no pain or lasting harm to your fertility, and are basically less all-around harmful to your body than the flu, I couldn't calm down. An invisible STI, like other strains of HPV or inactive herpes, feels a little theoretical, like something you might be able to calmly discuss with a potential partner.But no one was going to want to put their face in my mushroom forest.My roommate eventually demanded to know why I was tying up the bathroom during prime relaxing-post-work-poop hours.She was the only person I told about my warts, and while she tried to comfort me, I couldn't really take any solace from it.She didn't have to go home every day feeling diseased and on edge, feeling the despair that no one would ever love her. In the grand scheme of things, genital warts and herpes — two STIs with enormous stigma (stigma so great I still don't feel like I can put my name on this, over a decade later) — are actually among the least severe. I didn't have sex — I still couldn't deal with that, even though some literature suggests that you are only still at high risk of transmitting the disease three months after the end of your outbreak — but going on dates helped me feel like I wasn't now inherently off-putting and unworthy of love, which helped me a lot.
I did feel sad that I missed the vaccine — if it had only come out a year earlier, I could have skipped all of this, and simply gone on associating "Hollaback Girl" with Gwen Stefani's shiny, shiny hair. Sometimes, life sucks a little like that, but that doesn't mean it's the end of the world.She was very sexually conservative, someone who had always raised an eyebrow at the way I approached my sex life.As she hugged me that night, I thought: "She is right and I am wrong.I left work early that day to see my gyno, who very casually confirmed my self-diagnosis, noting breezily that "it's really going around the city this summer." She gave me the spiel — genital warts are a form of the human papilloma virus, which you probably know as HPV.You contract genital warts through skin-to-skin contact, most frequently through sex.