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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.


Join The Conversation
NurseKristy2009 NurseKristy2009 7 years
I would definately get the vaccine. I've had all three of my HPV shots, my last one six months ago, and have had no problems. Needles dont really bother me, I just make sure my arm is relaxed. I also got my meningitis vaccination and a tetanus booster at my first appointment. Get your HPV shot in your left arm (if you're right handed) just incase you have some pain. It's a great vaccine. Hopefully they'll be giving it to boys soon.
estrela estrela 9 years
I just finished the series of shots for the vaccine in september and the only side effects I noticed was that my arm was sore for a couple of days.
calygirl calygirl 9 years
My doctor told me I had HPV, and after 1 laser treatment it disappeared and hasn't been back in over a year.. now I might just be one of the lucky ones, but I hope to god it stays gone.. it scares the crap out of me.. I've gotten 2 out of the 3 shots for the vaccine, and I had no huge problems except my arm hurt for 2 days, and I couldn't lift it very high. getting this vaccine is the best thing you can do to save yourself.
glam-sugar glam-sugar 9 years
I was/still am a candidate for the regular cancer vaccine. I was told you get the same side effects as chemo, just more mild.
pink_magnetism pink_magnetism 9 years
I really should do this.
karlotta karlotta 9 years
I was 29 when I got the shots, and submitted the bill to my insurance (Empire Blue) anyway - and they paid for it. Maybe it was a mistake, because the age limit definitely is 26, maybe they thought they'd been charging me so much every month they could do me this favor (yeah right!). I had no side effects whatsoever from the injections. None. Actually, my OB/GYN explained to me that this particular vaccine is not like other vaccines which are usually made from benign strains of the virus. This vaccine isn't. It's a certain type of yeast. I know, sounds weird, and don't ask me more - this is all he explained to me; but that was in response to my concerns that it was a new vaccine and maybe the tests weren't run on a long enough period to know the side effects - like you, Leeluv. He said there was no danger because that's all this vaccine is; a certain type of yeast that disables the virus. Thanks everyone for sharing your stories too; it made my entry feel a little less like the walk of shame! And good luck to everybody. If the numbers are right, 4 of 5 of us are, were, or will be affected. Let's thank the docs for this wonderful vaccine! Cheers!
laluna laluna 9 years
I got my first shot a few weeks ago. I went to my doctor for a completely different reason and she suggested it.
Cherrytree94 Cherrytree94 9 years
megln1022 and others who are over 26 my gyno told me that the FDA was getting ready to approve Gardasil for all women and to keep my ears open and keep asking because I would be a good candidate for it since I am getting ready to turn 27 and just found out I have one of the high risk types of HPV.
chatoyante chatoyante 9 years
I got the three shots earlier this year and though it was a little uncomfortable going in, any decrease in risk is worth it, imho! After I got the third one, the nurse said that they were going to be releasing a new version that requires fewer shots, but she didn't say when. lolabella: I agree about getting the vaccine, but don't freak out too much about the fingernail thing. Human papilloma virus (HPV) is the same virus that causes finger warts, plantar warts, etc and it is nearly everywhere. There are many different types, though, and only certain ones attach to the cervix (some were mentioned in the article); it doesn't necessarily mean that boys have this type of HPV. Most kids get a skin wart at one time or another and that may be why they found the virus under the kids' nails. Make those appointments! Last I heard the upper age limit was 26, but they may have changed it...
htiduj htiduj 9 years
lets discuss gardisil. now this may sound shocking, but due to religious reasons i am abstaining from sex until i get married. HOWEVER, my gyno told me that since im 26 (right under the 27 year old deadline for insurance to pay for the shots) that i should get the vaccine - just in case for the future..whatever. i of course said yes. the vaccination is complete after 3 shots spread months apart. the second shot is 2 months from the first, and the 3rd is 4 months from the second. i have gotten 2 out of the 3 shots so far (unfortunately my 3rd shot will be after i am 27). as with all vaccinations i got a touch of fever that night...but otherwise it was painless. its so worth getting vaccinated. because you never know. and its important to do whatever you can to prevent cancer.
leeluvfashion leeluvfashion 9 years
I think it's a smart vaccine HOWEVER I'm not sure about getting it yet mainly because I want to know about the long-term affects of the shot. While the protection of the hpv vaccine is a huge breakthrough I want to make sure that 5-10yrs down the road it won't have any negative affect on my system.
designerel designerel 9 years
Wow some of these stories are alarming. I have my annual appt. coming up, and I'm definitely getting it. Thanks for sharing the stories.
mlen mlen 9 years
also with the shot- there are many different types of hpv and the shot only covers like the main ones but still- even if you have one strand of hpv, the shot can help prevent the others. i've had hpv for a couple years now and it keeps coming and going. i test ok and then next time i test for it. but i'm too old for the recommended age of vaccination- but i still might get it (i think insurance just doesn't pay for it then or something)
fashionhore fashionhore 9 years
I got the shot because my fmaily has a history of cervical cancer, so hopefully it will help me stay clear of it as best I can. However, the side effects are nasty ladies, so pay attention to them. I had severe side effects for the final shot and could not get out of bed. The bf had to stay home and take care of me. It was an emotional and physical roller coaster. But I do recommend getting the shot!
lolabella lolabella 9 years
i am a cervical cancer survivor, and just got my 2-year clean PAP! whoo!!! i have decided not to have any more children as a result of my surgeries due to the major risk (now) of an incompetent cervix. i feel very fortunate that i have my two daughters and i didn't lose my reproductive organs or my life. i highly recommend this, because i went from a completely normal PAP and just one year later, BOOM! i was shocked that in just the span of 15 months i could have gone so far into the disease. my OB/GYN said that he was so thankful that i did not skip my annual PAP because, and i quote, "i cannot imagine what we would have been up against." i'm sure he can imagine, though! i'm definitely getting both of my daughters vaccinated. i recently read that HPV was found under boy's fingernails, so i'm not taking any chances with them.
chicaparati17 chicaparati17 9 years
I agree with the others get the vaccine...why wouldnt you?
sweetrae80 sweetrae80 9 years
karlotta, wow, you have really gone through a lot. thanks for sharing your story with us. i think that the vaccine is worth getting as well because HPV is soooo very common now and you can get it even if you use a condom.
oh-cecilia-baby oh-cecilia-baby 9 years
and more power to you, karlotta. that's unfortunate but also a real eye opener to others. stay healthy, girl :)
oh-cecilia-baby oh-cecilia-baby 9 years
i went in for a meningitis shot and the lady was seriously pushing the HPV vaccine. it freaked me out thinking about two shots in one day, but it's really important! it's great how well they're putting it out there for women to be more informed.
chicacherrycola chicacherrycola 9 years
My OBGYN recommended the vaccine to me the first time I went to her for birth control pills, and I readily agreed. Today I just finished receiving the third and last shot in the Gardasil series, woohoo! Also, I have heard there is another HPV vaccine coming out that will protect you against 2 more HPV virus types, does anyone know about that?
designergirl designergirl 9 years
Getting the vaccine is a good idea. Because it's spread by genital contact, a condom doesn't even always protect you (chances are, there will still be some skin to skin contact). Also, since they don't give the vaccine to men. you can continue passing the virus back and forth.
Greggie Greggie 9 years
I thought you had to get it before any exposure. It's something I'd definitely recommend (I contracted HPV and needed laser surgery).
CaterpillarGirl CaterpillarGirl 9 years
Other facts about the vaccine. You have to get 3 injections over 6 months. and the Gardasil website has a reminder you can sign up for so you do not forget to go back!! I recommend this vaccine, HPV is no laughing matter even if you do have the type that has no visible symptoms.
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