Medical questions & health advice by board certified doctors
"Can you be too old to need the HPV vaccine? "
I heard all women are getting the HPV vaccine now. I?m in my middle twenties and don?t know if I should get it. Is it too late? Does it stop cancer?
The HPV vaccine is a relatively new shot that can help prevent transmission and infection of certain HPV strains. The strains that were chosen for the vaccine are the usual suspects in HPV induced problems such as genital warts and cervical cancer. This is because the virus itself is responsible for causing most cases of cervical cancer. The HPV vaccine is currently approved for women between the ages of 9 through 26. A broader age group including younger girls and women older than 26 may be approved soon. Thus, you may be still able to get it. Without knowing your past medical history, it is impossible for me to recommend that you get the vaccine. I will say that in the vast majority of women, the benefits of the vaccine far outweigh any downsides. I should also point out that the shot only works to prevent an infection. It doesn't help treat any active HPV infections. I suggest that you bring this up with your primary care physician. He or she can review with you the pros and cons of getting the HPV vaccine and review other ways of preventing its transmission. You should continue to get your yearly pap smears even if you get the shot.
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