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What's the Deal With the Cervical Cancer Vaccine?

What's the Deal With the Cervical Cancer Vaccine?

Have you heard about Gardasil? It's a vaccine that prevents cervical cancer, but it only protects you against the type that is caused by the human papillomavirus (HPV), the same HPV that causes genital warts.

First off, let me tell you a little bit about HPV. It's an STI that can be transmitted through vaginal, anal, or oral sex. It can manifest itself in flesh-colored warts that show up one to eight months after you become infected. However, some people infected with HPV have no symptoms at all, which means they could pass it on without even knowing it. Now that's just scary.

Aside from causing genital warts, if a woman has HPV and it doesn't go away on its own, it's possible that the virus can cause abnormal cells to develop in the lining of her cervix. If not discovered early and treated, these abnormal cells can turn into cervical cancer.

So what's the deal with the Gardasil vaccine? To find out

If you get vaccinated with Gardasil, it will only help to protect you against four types of HPV (types 6, 11, 16, 18). These types are linked to 70 percent of cervical cancers and 90 percent of genital warts, but the vaccine won't prevent all types of cervical cancer or genital warts. Also, you should know that taking this vaccine isn't a cure if you've already been diagnosed with genital warts or cervical cancer. It can be given to girls as young as nine years old, and any woman can get the vaccine if she is sexually active and feels at risk.

Dear's Advice: If you are not in a monogamous relationship with someone you know is HPV-free, getting Gardasil may be a good idea for you. Talk to your doctor about it, and be sure to see your gyno for regular cervical cancer screenings.

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