Gardasil Vaccine

Human papilloma virus (HPV) is the cause of almost 100% of cervix cancers. There are many different strains of this virus. Some strains can cause cervix cancer, and some strains can cause genital warts. Fortunately you can help protect yourself from this virus. The most recent Gardasil vaccine now protects against 9 strains of HPV. It protects against 7 strains that cause about 90% of cervix cancers, and 2 strains that cause about 90% of genital warts. HPV can also cause vulvar, vaginal, and anal cancers.

HPV is very common! About 75% of people who are sexually active have been infected with one strain or another of HPV at some point. Most people have no symptoms and therefore you would never know you had it, which is why it is spread so easily. We strongly recommend that all women (and men!) get this vaccine.

Ideally, you would get this vaccine before becoming sexually active and therefore before any exposure to HPV has occurred. However, even if you have been sexually active for many years it is unlikely that you would have acquired all 9 strains that are covered by the vaccine and therefore you will still get the benefit of protection against any strains you may not have been exposed to already. The vaccine will not treat or help get rid of any strain of HPV virus that you are already infected with.

The vaccine is given as a small injection in 3 doses. The first one is given, and then the second one should be done 2 months later, and the last dose given 6 months after the first dose. If for some reason you miss a dose or are somewhat late for it, it is still worth it to get the needed doses as soon as you can.

It is still important to get regular pap smears even after you have had the vaccine, as it does not protect against every single strain of the HPV virus that could cause a problem. Also a small number of people will not get full protection from the vaccine.

Adverse reactions to the Gardasil vaccine are rare. Most people will notice some discomfort around the injection site. Some people are prone to fainting after injections. Some people report minor symptoms around the time of the injection such as headache, nausea, or fatigue. Despite some sensational reporting that you may have seen, very large studies involving millions of women have not shown any association with the development of serious disease or disorders as a result of Gardasil.