Human papillomavirus (HPV) is the most common sexually transmitted disease in the United States, with an estimated 43 million infections occuring annually. HPV usually doesn’t cause noticeable symptoms at first, but it’s linked to potentially serious health complications — and it’s a leading cause of cervical cancer in women.
What’s the best way to prevent HPV infection and its complications? Get Gardasil® 9, the only FDA-approved vaccine to protect against HPV.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), all preteens need the HPV vaccination — but it’s normal to have questions about what’s best for your child’s health or your own.
Is getting the HPV vaccine worthwhile? When is the right time to get it? Can you still get vaccinated against HPV if you didn’t get the shot as a preteen?
We can help you figure it out. Our gynecology team at OB-GYN Associates of Marietta works with women of all ages to protect their health. If you have questions about the HPV vaccine for yourself or your child, you’ve come to the right place.
Benefits of the HPV vaccine
There are many different types of HPV. Only certain types are linked to an increased risk of cancer, but the HPV vaccination protects against nine of the most common types to help you stay healthy throughout your life.
The vaccine works by introducing your immune system to a weakened or dead form of the disease. The vaccine triggers a mild immune response, and your body builds the ability to fight the disease if you come in contact with it later on.
A vaccine is generally most effective when you get it before you come in contact with the disease. That’s why the CDC recommends HPV vaccination for preteens, before they become sexually active.
Gardasil 9 has been extensively tested, and it’s safe for most people. It has been proven to reduce the risk of cervical cancer, other gynecologic cancers, genital warts, and more.
Get the vaccine for a lower risk of cancer
One of the biggest benefits of getting the HPV vaccine is a lower risk of certain cancers. Some types of HPV, including types 16 and 18, can cause a number of different forms of cancer, like:
- Cervical cancer
- Vaginal cancer
- Vulvar cancer
- Anal cancer
- Oral cancer
The HPV vaccine can help prevent more than 90% of cancers caused by HPV infection, and it continues to protect you long after you receive your shots.
When to get the HPV vaccine
The HPV vaccine produces the strongest immune response if it’s administered before age 13. The best time to get it is around age 11 or 12, according to the CDC. In some cases, children as young as 9 can get vaccinated.
If your child gets vaccinated before age 15, they receive a series of two shots over the course of one year. But if your child hasn’t been vaccinated by age 15, it’s not too late. In fact, teens and adults who are 26 or younger should get vaccinated if they haven’t already.
If you’re older than 26, talk to our team to find out if you need the HPV vaccine. Although it’s much less effective for adults, Gardasil 9 is approved for women up to age 45, and it may still protect against certain health conditions.
For teens and adults, the HPV vaccine typically includes a series of three shots over the course of six months.
Are you still not sure if you or your child need the HPV vaccine? Schedule a consultation with our team to talk about your options. Call our offices in Marietta or Woodstock, Georgia, today.