If you ask a doctor, “Should I get the Gardasil vaccine?” you’ll likely receive a yes-and-no answer. The Gardasil vaccine has been proven to prevent 90% of genital warts associated with the Human Papillomaviruses (HPV’s), and 70% of cervical cancer cases in women. And yet Gardasil will only protect you against the most common strains of HPV viruses.
Furthermore, though HPV infections may result in the growth of warts around your genitals, anus, hands or feet, and legions in your throat and mouth, most of the 20 million United States residents infected with HPV will experience no symptoms at all. For many, their immune system will destroy the presence of the virus in their body within two years, and they may never become aware of the infection at all.
Despite this there are compelling reasons for why you should get the Gardasil vaccine. According to Mayo Clinic Internist, Dr. James Steckelberg, certain types of HPV, labeled high-risk types, will lead to persistent infections that may develop into cancer. Though cervical cancer is the most common, affecting women only, other types of cancer may affect both genders. Though rare, cancer of the anus and oropharynx (the back of the mouth and upper throat) may result from persistent HPV in both men and women. In addition, cancer of the vulva and vagina may occur in women, and cancer of the penis in men. Typically rare HPV-related cancer develops simultaneously with an HIV infection.
Even high-risk types of HPV may not exhibit infection symptoms at first, though the infected person will remain contagious. Contrary to popular belief, HPV cannot be contracted from a toilet seat. However, sexual contact with an HPV carrier will likely result in infection. This includes oral, vaginal and anal sex, as well as touching of the genital area. The use of condoms may diminish the chances of HPV infection during intercourse but will not eliminate it.
The side effects of the Gardasil vaccine are mild by comparison with its benefits. The three injections given over a period of six months may lead to pain, swelling and redness in the injection area due to irritation of the surrounding tissue. Headache, fever and nausea may also occur initially, as well as fainting in patients sensitive to needle injections. All such side effects are temporary.
To answer your question of whether you should get the Gardasil vaccine your doctor will consider your sexual lifestyle. Though embarrassing, full details of sexual orientation and frequency of changing partners will enable your doctor to determine whether Gardasil is a right fit for you. Pregnant women, however, should not receive the Gardasil vaccine, nor should patients with severe allergies to yeast.
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