What is HPV? Why is it important to take HPV vaccination? Are there any side effects of taking HPV vaccination? Dig into content to know more

First, let us know about HPV vaccines in brief to prevent cervical cancer.

Cervical cancer is most commonly associated with human papillomavirus (HPV), an infection that can be transferred sexually by vaginal, oral, or anal exposure, and via skin-to-skin contact. Cervical cancer is on the rise worldwide, but it can be prevented simply by getting the HPV vaccine.

The HPV vaccine protects against some cancers caused by infection with the human papillomavirus (HPV). Cancer of the cervix, vagina, vulva, penis, anus, and throat can result from HPV infection. It can also result in genital warts. HPV is a common virus that is transmitted from person to person or through sexual contact. The HPV vaccine is indicated for people between the ages of 9 and 26.

What is HPV?

HPV is an abbreviation for human papillomavirus. Genital HPV is a common sexually transmitted infection that causes no symptoms and resolves on its own, but can sometimes cause serious illness. HPV is responsible for:

  • Almost all cases of genital warts and cervical cancer
  • 90% of anal cancers
  • 65% of vaginal cancers
  • 50% of vulva cancers
  • 35% of penile cancers
  • 60% of oropharyngeal cancers (cancers of the back of the throat, including the base of the tongue and tonsils).

Four out of five people are infected with at least one kind of HPV. It is also referred to as the "common cold" of sexual intercourse. Both men and women are infected with HPV. The virus is transmitted through intimate contact with genital skin during sexual activity, which occurs through microscopic cracks in the skin. Typically, this occurs without anyone being aware of it or causing any problems.

Condoms provide some but not complete protection from HPV since they do not cover all the genital skin. They do, however, protect against many other sexually transmitted infections and aid in the prevention of unintended pregnancy. Only one sexual partner can expose you to HPV the first time you engage in sexual activity.

What are the Risk Factors of HPV?

Several factors can raise your chances of developing HPV if you aren't vaccinated. These include:

  • Sex without the use of a condom or other barrier method
  • Several sexual partners
  • Cuts or splintered skin
  • Touch with infectious warts
  • Smoking or chewing tobacco habit that impairs the immune system
  • Weakened immune system
  • Diet deficient in essential vitamins, minerals, and other essentials
  • Fortunately, many of these risk factors are under our control.

HPV and Cancer

There are numerous HPV kinds, each of which is classified as 'low risk' or 'high risk.'

Some high-risk HPV varieties can cause serious illnesses, including cancer. When infected with high-risk strains of HPV, the body may not normally eliminate the virus. This is referred to as a "persistent" HPV infection.

Persistent HPV infection can cause abnormal cells to grow in the cervix, which can lead to cervical cancer if left untreated for many years. Although cervical cancer is the most prevalent type of cancer caused by HPV, chronic infection is also known to cause various cancers in men and women, including penile, anal, vulval, vaginal, and mouth/throat cancers.

HPV Treatment

Although most HPV infections resolve on their own, there is no therapy for the infection itself. Instead, your doctor will most likely want you to return after a year to see if the HPV infection has persisted and if any cell alterations have formed that require further investigation.

Prescription drugs, electrical current burning, or liquid nitrogen freezing can all be used to cure genital warts. However, removing physical warts does not treat the infection, and warts may reappear.

Precancerous cells can be treated with a simple treatment by your doctor. Chemotherapy, radiation therapy, or surgery may treat cancers caused by HPV. Multiple methods may be utilized.

There are presently no medically validated natural therapies for HPV infection.

Routine HPV and cervical cancer screening are critical for identifying, monitoring, and treating health problems resulting from HPV infection.

HPV Preventions

The easiest ways to avoid HPV are to use condoms and practice safe sex.

In addition, the Gardasil 9 vaccine is available for the prevention of genital warts and malignancies caused by HPV. The vaccine can protect against nine strains of HPV that have been linked to cancer or genital warts.

The HPV vaccine is recommended for both boys and girls aged 11 to 12. The vaccine is given in two doses, at least six months apart. Women and males aged 15 to 26 can also be vaccinated in three doses.

People between the ages of 27 and 45 who have not previously been vaccinated for HPV are now eligible for Gardasil 9 vaccination.

Get frequent health checkups, screenings, and Pap smears to avoid HPV-related health issues.

What is HPV Vaccination?

The human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine protects against infection with specific HPV strains. HPV can cause cervical cancer and genital warts.

HPV has also been related to other types of cancer, including:

  • Vaginal
  • Vulvar
  • Penile
  • Anal
  • Mouth
  • Throat

The HPV vaccine does not protect against a wide range of HPV that might cause cervical cancer. Regular screening (Pap test) for precancerous abnormalities and early symptoms of cervical cancer is still recommended for girls and women.

The HPV vaccine does not protect against other illnesses spread through sexual contact.

Different types of HPV vaccines

HPV is a virus family that includes over 200 different viruses. Around 40 of these are transmitted through sexual interaction. About 12 of these 40 kinds can cause cancer. Worldwide, three safe and effective HPV vaccinations are available:

Gardasil® 9: Gardasil 9 protects against nine different forms of HPV that cause cancer, including high-risk strains. It has the potential to prevent up to 90% of cervical malignancies.

Cervarix® and Gardasil®: These two HPV vaccines are used in various countries to treat high-risk HPV strains. They can prevent almost 70% of cervical cancer.

HPV Vaccine Side Effects

Serious side effects from the HPV vaccine have not been associated, but some teens and young adults have experienced fainting spells following injection. Mild side effects may occur, and these include:

  • Pain, redness, or swelling where the injection was done
  • Headache
  • Fever
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Weakness and fatigue
  • Muscle or joint pain

The HPV vaccine, like any other vaccine, carries the potential of a severe allergic reaction. It's uncommon, but if you experience swelling of your face and neck, breathing difficulty, or hives after receiving your vaccine, seek medical attention immediately.

What are the Uses of HPV Vaccines?

In Girls and Women:

Gardasil is a vaccine used to prevent the following diseases caused by Human Papillomavirus (HPV) in girls and women aged 9 to 26 years old:

  • Cervical, vulvar, vaginal, and anal cancer
  • Genital warts (condyloma acuminata)

And the precancerous or dysplastic lesions are listed below:

  • Cervical intraepithelial neoplasia (CIN)
  • Cervical adenocarcinoma in situ (AIS)
  • Vulvar intraepithelial neoplasia (VIN)
  • Vaginal intraepithelial neoplasia (VaIN)
  • Anal intraepithelial neoplasia (AIN)

In Boys and Men:

Gardasil is a vaccine used to prevent the following diseases caused by Human Papillomavirus (HPV) in boys and men aged 9 to 26 years old:

  • Anal cancer
  • Genital warts (condyloma acuminata)

And the precancerous or dysplastic lesions are listed below:

  • Anal intraepithelial neoplasia (AIN)

Who Should Get HPV Vaccine?

The HPV vaccine is indicated for boys and girls aged 9 to 14. The vaccine is also advised for those up to the age of 26 who have not yet received the vaccine or completed the series of injections.

Certain people aged 27 to 45 may be candidates for the vaccination. If you believe you are in this age group, speak with your health care provider.

The vaccine can protect against HPV-related cancers in people of all ages. Certain persons who may have new sexual encounters in the future and may be exposed to HPV should think about getting the vaccine as well.

The HPV vaccine is administered in a two-dose series to males and girls aged 9 to 14 years old:

  • First dose: presently
  • Second dose: 6 to 12 months after the first dose

People aged 15 to 26 years old, as well as those with weaker immune systems, are administered the vaccination in a three-dose series:

  • First dose:Immediately
  • Second dose:1 to 2 months after the first dose
  • Third dose:6 months after the first dose

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Frequently Asked Questions

1. Can I get HPV vaccine if I am over 26?

Vaccination is not recommended for everyone over the age of 26. However, if they were not fully vaccinated when they were younger, some adults aged 27 to 45 years may decide to receive the HPV vaccine after consulting with their doctor.

2. What are the symptoms of HPV in females?

Females will exhibit varied symptoms depending on the type of HPV they have. Warts on the cervix may grow if they have low-risk HPV, causing

  • Discomfort and pain
  • Pain during sex
  • Pain in the pelvic region
  • Unusual discharge from the cervix
  • Unusual bleeding, for example, after sex

3. Does HPV go away?

In most cases, HPV goes away on its own and causes no health risks. But, if HPV does not go away, it can cause health issues such as genital warts and cancer. Genital warts typically manifest as a little bump or cluster of bumps in the genital area.