Do you have a question you’ve been dying to ask, but didn’t know who to turn to? Well, now you do. The National Women’s Health Network has established a weekly Q & A column where you can ask questions on a variety of topics. Those topics include contraception, abortion, sexual health, menopause & menopause hormone therapy, osteoporosis, obesity, and some aspects of heart disease. Each week we will feature a new question. See this week’s question below.

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To view past questions, check out our Since You Asked Archives.

What we are able to provide:

  • A feminist perspective on current issues in women’s health
  • Evidence-based research on the risks and benefits of certain drugs and procedures
  • Information on available treatment options

What we are not able to provide:

  • Medical advice
  • Physician referrals
  • Financial assistance in paying for health care
  • Information on general health topics

Please note: Questions submitted will not be answered personally, and not all questions submitted will be answered. If your question is selected, you will be notified via email. Before you submit your question, search our website to see if you find the answer to your question. Your answer might be found in a fact sheet, newsletter article or on one of our advocacy pages. NWHN can provide you with accessible and accurate health information; however, we are not medically licensed professionals and thus cannot provide medical diagnostic or treatment advice.


Weekly Column – What is the most recent information on the HPV vaccine?

Human papillomavirus (HPV) is one of the most prominent sexually transmitted diseases in the United States. Over 100 different strains of HPV can be passed along from partner to partner and while not all of them cause cancer, many still cause genital warts or cervical lesions. The Gardasil HPV vaccine is designed to protect against nine strains of HPV, including those most likely to develop into genital warts or cancers. One in four people are currently infected and there are 14 million new cases of infection every year in the United States alone.

Originally designed for 9- to 26-year-olds, the HPV vaccine has now been approved for 27- to 45-year-olds. Dosage looks different for different ages. Children age nine to 14 receive two shots six to 12 months apart, but older age groups—starting at 15 and now going to 45—will be given three shots with a more specific timeline to follow. Although people who have been sexually active longer may have already encountered one of the strains of HPV, doesn’t mean they should not get the vaccine. Because Gardasil protects against nine different strains, it is still possible to receive protection from these shots.

This vaccine not only guards against an STD, but also six distinct forms of cancer that can attack men and women. Common HPV-caused cancers include cervical, vulvar, vaginal, penile, anal, and throat. Every year there are 33,700 new cases of HPV-caused cancer in men and women, but through the simple two—or three—injection course, the HPV vaccine prevents the development of HPV-based cancers in 31,200 men and women. And this number will continue to grow now that the vaccine can encompass more age groups.

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