Objective: To determine whether young women who have not experienced sexual intercourse may harbor genital human papillomavirus (HPV) infection in the vaginal-ectocervical mucosa.
Methods: We included 151 women, 10-25 years of age, attending two adolescent health care units (Stockholm and Uppsala) and one primary health care center (Umeå). The size of the hymenal orifice, use of tampons, and the habit of digital vaginal manipulation were registered. Samples of epithelial cells were collected from the vagina and analyzed for the presence of HPV using polymerase chain reaction.
Results: One hundred thirty of 154 samples contained an adequate number of cells. Two samples were HPV 6 DNA-positive. None were HPV 16 DNA-positive. None of the women had external genital warts. In 84%, the hymenal opening was 15 mm or less. Forty-eight percent of the women used tampons during periods. Fifty-four percent had inserted their own finger into the vagina and in 23%, a boyfriend's finger had penetrated the vagina.
Conclusion: Human papillomavirus is rarely present vaginally in virginal women, even with the use of tampons or digital penetration.