Should Your Daughter Get the HPV Vaccine?

January 2017

Learn how HPV prevention can reduce her risk of cervical cancer later in life. 

The HPV vaccine in pre-teens and teens has been known to reduce the risk of cervical cancer later in life.

It seems like just yesterday that Gardasil, better known as the HPV vaccine, appeared on the scene. No longer the new kid on the block, this shot turned ten this past summer. If you have a pre-teen or teen daughter (or son), you may have wondered whether it is right for her/him, but the research is clear: the HPV vaccine reduces girls’ risk of later getting cervical cancer.

To honor Cervical Cancer Awareness Month, let’s explore more about HPV, the HPV vaccine, and when to get it (you may be surprised to learn the answer).

About HPV

HPV stands for human papillomavirus, a very common sexually transmitted disease that comes in about 40 strains. Most sexually active women and men will get HPV at some point in their lives, and most won’t know it. Because it’s quiet and common – about 20 million people have it and 6.2 million more get it each year – many people wrongly assume it’s harmless. But HPV is not like the common cold. It’s a cervical cancer-causing virus that is preventable.

Two of HPV’s strains, HPV-6 and HPV-11, cause about 90% of genital warts. Another two of them, HPV-16 and HPV-18, account for about 70% of all cervical cancers. About 12,000 women are diagnosed with cervical cancer every year in the U.S. and about 4,000 women die from it. HPV is one of the biggest risk factors for cervical cancer.

About HPV prevention

Gardasil is the only HPV vaccine on the market and targets nine strains with a virus-like particle (not with the virus itself). Its manufacturer cites studies that have shown it is 100% effective in the prevention of cervical precancers and noninvasive cervical cancers caused by HPV-16 and 18 in those not already exposed to those strains.

Gardasil doesn’t cure HPV, and it doesn’t fight active HPV infections. It’s about HPV prevention. Research suggests that the vaccine—administered in three doses to both girls and boys—has serious longevity. Current studies show that individuals vaccinated ten years ago are still protected from the virus today.

When to administer the HPV vaccine

The FDA has approved the HPV vaccine, Gardasil, for young women and men ages 9 to 20, but we recommend administering it at age 11 or 12, before sexual activity begins. That might sound very young for a vaccine protecting against a sexually transmitted disease. However, more than half of U.S. girls have had sex by their senior year in high school, which explains why about half of all cases of HPV affect people between the ages of 15 and 24.

If you have questions about administering the HPV vaccine to your daughter, schedule an appointment with one of our women’s health providers today. We’ll help you understand the benefits and risks before her HPV first dose. Call us at 920.885.6090 or reach out to us online today.

This is a public forum, by which BDWH provides general information to patients and prospective patients. You should not post any personal or identifying information on this Blog. The information that appears on this Blog does not constitute medical advice and is not a substitute for a consultation with a Healthcare Professional.

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