The human papillomavirus (HPV) is the most common sexually transmitted infection. Certain high-risk strains can lead to cancer and genital warts. Thankfully, getting vaccinated provides immunity against the most dangerous HPV types. Routine vaccination delivers immense health benefits and vital protection, especially when started at a young age.
What is HPV and the HPV Vaccine ?
Before exploring the many advantages of HPV vaccination, let’s review some key facts:
HPV is passed through intimate skin-to-skin contact and sex.
There are over 100 varieties of HPV. About a dozen high-risk strains can lead to cancer. Others cause genital warts.
HPV often causes no symptoms and goes away on its own. But sometimes it lingers and leads to serious health problems.
The HPV Vaccine
3 doses recommended starting at age 11-12 to develop immunity before exposure.
Protects against cancer-causing HPV types 16 and 18 which are responsible for over 70% of cervical cancers. Also covers types 6 and 11 that cause 90% of genital warts.
Does not contain live virus so it cannot infect you with HPV or cause cancer. Side effects are mild like soreness at injection site.
The primary benefit of HPV vaccination is powerful protection against HPV infection and its potential consequences. But routine vaccination starting in preteens offers additional invaluable health advantages:
Prevents Cervical Cancer
HPV causes nearly all cervical cancers. The vaccine prevents over 90% of cancers by stopping infection with the main cancer-causing HPV strains before girls become sexually active.
Avoids Other HPV-related Cancers
Besides cervical cancer, HPV causes cancers of the vulva, vagina, penis, anus, mouth and throat. The vaccine protects against these cancers by preventing the underlying HPV infection.
Guards Against Genital Warts
The vaccine protects against the types of HPV that cause about 90% of all genital warts. This avoids a lot of discomfort, inconvenience and embarrassment.
Strengthens Immunity Early
Starting the vaccine series at age 11-12 develops peak antibody protection well before the start of sexual activity and potential HPV exposure. Maximal immunity is already established when needed most.
Removes Fear and Anxiety
Young women no longer have to worry so much about HPV infection or cancers. The vaccine takes away a huge source of fear and anxiety.
Saves Time and Money
Preventing HPV avoids doctor visits, costly tests like Pap smears, and treatments down the road. It saves time spent on appointments and procedures as well as worry.
Lets Women Feel Empowered
Instead of just screening for HPV issues later, the vaccine lets young women take active control of their health from a young age and prevent infection in the first place.
Additional Benefits to Understand
Beyond the major advantages outlined already, the HPV vaccine provides some other notable benefits:
Covers New HPV Types
The latest version of the vaccine protects against 7 cancer-causing HPV types compared to just 2 in the past. This prevents 90% of HPV cancers.
Requires Only 2 Doses Before 15
If started before age 15, only 2 doses are needed 6-12 months apart. This makes completing the series easier.
Produces Long-Lasting Immunity
Studies indicate immunity lasts at least 10 years, possibly lifelong. This durable defense could make boosters down the road unnecessary.
Guards Boys Too
The vaccine is now recommended for boys to prevent cancers and genital warts. HPV vaccination benefits all genders.
Strengthens Herd Immunity
Widespread vaccination confers better herd immunity so unvaccinated people are less likely to get infected. But getting vaccinated is still best.
Talk to your child’s doctor about getting them vaccinated against HPV. This vaccine delivers crucial protection against several forms of cancer and improves public health. Routine vaccination provides true peace of mind.