Well, now that we know all about HPV, we can talk about the vaccine for it.
I was 16 when the HPV vaccine, Gardasil, was approved for use. So in 2007, my mom took me to go get the shot. Go ahead, laugh it up; yes my mom took her almost-an-adult daughter to get her shots. Needles are scary, okay (and I got a lollipop out of it!)? Anyway, at the time, it was just another vaccine for me—like tetanus or polio or something. I didn’t even know what HPV was; I just got it because I was told to. And thank goodness I did, because back then, I didn't know that HPV infections are the main cause of cervical cancer.
So this is what happens: it turns out that the HPV shot comes in three doses (aka three SHOTS, eek!) over the span of six months, so you need to go in a few times to get the full protection of the vaccine. Three times may sound like a lot, but it'll be worth it in the long run. The vaccine only protects against a few of the strains of HPV (the most heinous ones), so it still doesn't mean you should have unprotected sex just because you got the shot. Now ladies, the threat of HPV infection and cervical cancer is still there if you are sexually active and have gotten the vaccine. Regular Pap tests will help screen for cervical cancer. And to our male readers, you can also get the HPV shot to prevent infection and other forms of cancer caused by HPV.
Even though I didn't know what I was protecting myself from then, I'm glad I have the vaccination now. It ends up that we're all pretty lucky that this vaccine was developed. With over 100 strains of HPV, there are lots of chances that a person that is sexually active could contract it from their partner. The best thing to do to protect yourself from this infection is to get your immunization before you are sexually active and to use a condom each and every time you have sex to prevent the spread of STDs.