The HPV vaccine is offered to children between the ages of 12 and 13 as part of the NHS vaccination programme but it is also recommended for men and women up to and including the age of 45 in order to help protect them against these diseases. Anyone up until age 25 is eligible to receive the vaccine for free on the NHS.
The human papilloma virus HPV is the most common sexually transmitted infection. In many cases, infection does not cause any symptoms, but it can cause genital warts, and even lead to genital cancers, including cervical cancer (the second most common form of cancer in young women).
HPV is transmitted during sexual contact. The infection often clears by itself due to your body’s immune response. In some cases, however, the infection persists and remains unnoticed. In these cases, it could lead to cancerous lesions. HPV is the most common cause of cervical cancer and infection with certain types of HPV greatly increases your risk of getting cervical cancer.
HPV is an extremely common infection and over three quarters of sexually active women contract it at some point in their lives.
The use of condoms reduces your risk of contracting HPV. However, condoms are not 100% effective at preventing HPV infection as the virus can be present on the skin in the entire genital area.
The British Journal of Cancer states that “Most HPV infections of the cervix are asymptomatic and more than 90% of detected infections are cleared within 2 years.”
We recommend you always practice safe sex even after the vaccine as it doesn’t protect against other sexual transmitted infections.
The HPV vaccine (Gardasil 9) protects against the HPV types 6, 11, 16, 18, 31, 33, 45, 52 and 58. Types 6 and 11 cause 90% of genital warts. Genital warts are benign growths which occur in the genital area. They are not dangerous but they need to be treated, and you can also pass them onto other sexual partners. Once you have been infected, you may remain contagious for life and the warts can recur at any point in life, especially if your immune system is weakened. Types 16 and 18 (and others) are the primary cause of cervical cancer in women and they are also associated with cancers of the vagina, throat, penis and anus.
The HPV vaccination can cause temporary side effects in some patients. Possible side effects include headache, fever, nausea and dizziness. You may also notice some redness, swelling, itching, bruising or redness at the site of injection.
As with other vaccines, we may ask you to remain at the clinic for observation for 15 minutes after the injection has been administered.