The human papillomavirus (HPV) is the most common sexually transmitted infection in the United States. It’s also the primary cause of cervical cancer. The team at OB-GYN Associates of Marietta offers the HPV vaccine so that you can protect yourself from cervical and other HPV-related cancers, but it’s important to get the shots around the age of 11-13 or at least before you turn 26. To learn more about the HPV vaccine, call one of the offices in Marietta or Woodstock, Georgia, or schedule an appointment using the online booking feature.
HPV is a generic name that refers to a group of more than 100 viruses, some of which are transmitted through sexual contact, either vaginal, oral, or anal. Most of the time, you don’t know you have an HPV infection because your body clears out the virus over time. But when the virus takes hold, it causes two problems: genital warts and cancer.
When HPV invades cells in your cervix, it makes them grow abnormally, forming a precancerous tumor that gradually turns into cervical cancer. HPV can also cause oral, vaginal, vulvar, and anal cancers.
The HPV virus only causes symptoms when genital warts develop or when cancerous cells get large enough to cause:
The HPV vaccine prevents you from many of the cancers caused by the virus. Gardasil® is the only HPV vaccine currently available in the United States. The most recent version, Gardasil 9, protects you from 90% of the HPV viruses that cause cervical cancer. The vaccine also prevents vaginal, vulvar, and anal cancers, as well as genital warts.
The HPV vaccine doesn’t treat an existing HPV infection — it only prevents future infections. To be fully protected, you need a series of two shots administered 6-12 months apart or three shots spread out over six months.
The HPV vaccine produces the strongest immune response in preteens, which is why the American Cancer Society recommends giving the first dose at age 11 or 12. However, it can be started as early as age 9.
The vaccination is recommended for women aged 13-26 who haven’t had their first shot or who got the first shot but didn’t complete the series. Gardasil 9 is approved up to age 45, but it’s not usually given after age 26 because it’s not likely to be very effective after that age.
To schedule your HPV vaccination, call OB-GYN Associates of Marietta or book an appointment online.