Last week I wrote about Michael Douglas and his claim that he believes his throat cancer was caused by performing oral sex on a woman with human papilloma virus (HPV). Said woman may have prevented her alleged HPV infection had she completed the HPV vaccine. As promised today’s Sexy Saturday article is all about how to keep it safe and sexy with Gardasil and Cervarix – the only FDA approved HPV vaccines.
Gardasil was the first HPV vaccine to be approved by the FDA for use in young women and girls age 9 through 26. Gardasil was later approved for use in young men of the same age range. In young women, Gardasil is effective against 4 strains of HPV – types 6, 11, 16, and 18 – known to be major contributing factors in cervical cancer, vulvar and vaginal cancers, anal cancers, genital warts, and several precancerous lesions. More recently research has shown HPV type 16 to be a major player in oral cancers as well. In young men, Gardasil is effective against genital warts, anal cancers, as well as precancerous anal lesions. Specifically, Gardasil is around 75% effective against HPV related strains of cervical cancer, 70% effective against vaginal cancers, 50% effective against vulvar cancers, and 90% effective against genital warts. Wow, that’s pretty freaking effective! Gardasil benefits are most effective if taken prior to any exposure to HPV. Gardasil does not treat or remove strains that a young woman or man was exposed to or may have at the time of receiving the vaccine.
While Gardasil offers protection from more strains of HPV than Cervarix, both are good options for a young woman to consider with regard to HPV prevention. Cervarix is protective against 2 strains of HPV – types 16 and 18 – commonly related to cervical cancer in young women. Cervarix is approved by the FDA for use in young women only, ages 9-25.
Both Gardasil and Cervarix are given as a series of three injections. The timing of injections is important and differs slightly between the two vaccines. The first dosage of Gardasil should be followed 2 months later by the second dosage. The third and final dosage should be injected 6 months later. With Cervarix the second dosage should be injected only 1 month after the first, and the last injection should be 6 months after dose 2. Some people may have HPV immunity after only 2 doses. However, it is recommended that all 3 doses be completed to receive maximum benefits and protection.
Side effects for both vaccines may include but are in no way limited to pain, swelling, and soreness at the site of the injection as well as headaches, and fainting. Like any vaccine, Gardasil and Cervarix are not for everyone. If you are considering an HPV vaccine, I suggest consulting with your primary care doctor before starting the vaccine series. If you are a UC Berkeley student the Tang Center offers Gardasil for any and all Cal Bears within the FDA-approved age range. If you’re not a Cal student, your local family planning clinic such as Planned Parenthood or your primary care doctor can likely answer your HPV vaccine questions and provide the injections. With these HPV vaccines available I am hopeful that at some time in the not too distant future we will live in a world free of HPV related cancers and genital warts. Wouldn’t that be nice? Until next Saturday…
Keep it safe ‘n sexy,
Ms. Robin, the Sex Goddess
Have a topic or question you’d like me to address in a future Sexy Saturdays article? Send it to me at RMills@sexucation.org.