I just went to the doctor and she was pushing me to get the HPV vaccine. I’m really freaked out about getting HPV or cervical cancer, but I’m not getting the shot for a few years. My boyfriend and I are both virgins, but is it possible for me to get cervical cancer if we do anything sexual?
While it’s definitely a great idea to strongly consider getting the HPV vaccine, you should take a little time to learn the facts about HPV and the vaccine before you make any decisions. Which is exactly why I’m here!
Human papillomavirus (HPV) is the most common STI out there with tons of different types that can affect your genitals, mouth and throat. The majority of people who are infected don’t even know they have HPV. One result of HPV is genital warts, and another is the possibility of cervical cancer. But don’t freak out – not everyone who is infected gets cervical cancer.
One super important thing to know about this STI is that you’re at risk of getting it even if you’ve never had sex – it’s passed through genital contact, not just penetration. That means that condoms don’t always protect against HPV.
The HPV vaccine is one of the best ways to prevent HPV (besides abstaining from any sexual contact at all, of course). It’s a series of of three shots over six months, and the best time to get it is before you start having sex. These vaccines target the HPV types that most commonly cause cervical cancer, which means they don’t target every single type of HPV there is. Gardasil, one of the two vaccines, also protects against HPV types that cause most genital warts. Although these shots are highly effective, they are less effective in young women who have already been exposed to the STI.
The vaccines have been studied using thousands of people around the world, and so far, they have shown no major safety concerns. Of course, there are side effects, like pain where the shot was given, fever, dizziness, nausea and sometimes fainting. But overall, the shot is said to be effective and safe.
But keep this in mind: no matter what your doctor or anyone else says, this is your body and ultimately your decision. You have to do what you think is right for you. If you’re looking to protect yourself against cervical cancer and you haven’t had sex yet, this is your best option – but like I said, it’s also your choice.
What’s on your mind? Heather can help! Send her your question at firstname.lastname@example.org