I can still remember sifting through the pamphlets my daughter brought home that day. There was all this technical jargon that I just didn’t understand. Back home, these ideas were not even discussed openly, I was in disbelief that these materials are being talked about to a child, my child.

Then once I got over the initial shock of my daughter being given these sexual health pamphlets, I began to actually read them.

HPV is characterized by anal or genital warts…”

That phrase leapt off the page. I’d had genital warts for a little over a year, but had no idea what to do about them. I had thought that they might have been an allergy or an ingrown hair, and had assumed that they would eventually pass. Until reading that phrase, I hadn’t thought it could be anything more.

That week I got myself to the walk in clinic by my daughter’s school. I asked for a PAP smear and told them my concerns about genital warts.  The doctor did the tests and told me that if it came back positive we would do another test to be sure it wasn’t a false positive.

I’d always assumed that I was married, I didn’t need these things. My first PAP smear had been during my pregnancy.   I had always been taught that if I had one partner, my monogamy would protect me, and in that moment I felt that I may have been wrong.

I signed the forms that night. I may feel that my daughter is too young to be sexually active right now, but she won’t stay this young forever. Her health is in her own hands and as a mother it’s my role to make sure I help her do that. HPV is hard to detect without tests, and even if you use a condom HPV can still affect those uncovered areas and can lead to cervical cancers in women.

I’m glad that my daughter is learning all this information to help her make the best decisions for her health. I’m going to take a cue from her and do the same for myself.