It was a disturbing phone call. Usually cool, calm and collected, my friend was in tears and on the verge of losing it.
“I just came from my OBGYN…I need to get my uterus removed. How is it going to affect my sexuality?” Good question and something she should be concerned about.
A few days later my friend told me the entire story. She contracted HPV and ended up with high grade cervical cancer cells which, eventually, let to a hysterectomy.
The kicker? In her own words, “I did everything right. I waited until I was 21 to have sex and then always made sure to have protected sex. It wasn’t until I was married at 33 that I got HPV from my husband…he didn’t know he had it.”
Mom Peer Pressure
Before this, she felt peer pressure from her mommy group not to give her daughter the HPV shot. There was an undercurrent, a silent social more that by getting the shot it would promote her daughter to go out and have sex.
She believes she was completely misinformed and now she wants both her daughter and son to have the shot.
She says, “Parents need to be better educated about what the HPV shot means to for our kids’ health now and in the future.”
In honor of my friend and her experience
There’s been a lot of negative press about the HPV shot. So I thought I would give you the facts and let you make an educated decision as to whether it is something you want to do for your children.
Cervical Cancer Facts
Statistics Canada estimates that every year 1,502 women are diagnosed with cervical cancer, and 581 will die from it, while another 220 will die from cancer of the vulva or vagina.
What is HPV?
Here’s some HPV facts from the website HPV Awareness (http://www.hpvawareness.org).
- HPV stands for Human papillomavirus
- It is a common virus with over 100 different types; more than 40 of which are sexually transmitted.
- It causes 99.4% of cervical cancer cases and 100% of genital warts cases.
- 80% of sexually active people will contract genital HPV in their lifetime and there are usually no signs or symptoms.
- It is a virus contracted through skin-to-skin contact, is very infectious, and is spread via sexual activity.
- Condoms reduce the spread of HPV but because they do not fully cover all the skin around the genitals, they do not fully protect you.
- It only takes one infected sexual partner in an entire lifetime to contract this virus.
What is the HPV shot?
There are two vaccines available on the market,
(1) Gardasil—targeted at preventing the two most common types of HPV associated with genital and anal cancers and those associated with genital and anal warts
(2) Cervarix—targeted at preventing the two main HPVs that cause cervical cancer
Get a Pap!!!
From the age of 21, with or without an HPV test, a woman should get a Pap test. It is the only way to see abnormalities that can lead to cervical cancer later in life.