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Women's sexual health (21)
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Talking to kids about sex (5)
- Cervical cancer vaccine: Who needs it, how it works
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Cervical cancer vaccine: Who needs it, how it works
Does the cervical cancer vaccine carry any health risks or side effects?
Overall, the effects are usually mild. The most common side effects of both HPV vaccines include soreness at the injection site (the upper arm), headaches, low-grade fever or flu-like symptoms. Sometimes dizziness or fainting occurs after the injection, especially in adolescents. Remaining seated for 15 minutes after the injection can reduce the risk of fainting. In addition, Cervarix may also cause nausea, vomiting, diarrhea or abdominal pain.
Serious side effects — including a severe allergic response (anaphylaxis), and neurological conditions, such as paralysis, weakness and brain swelling — have been reported in a small number of women. The FDA continues to monitor all such reports. To date, however, almost all reports of such adverse side effects appear to have occurred by chance around the time of immunization. They don't appear to have been caused by the vaccine itself.
Is the cervical cancer vaccine required for school enrollment?
The cervical cancer vaccine — either Gardasil or Cervarix — is part of the routine childhood vaccines schedule. Whether or not a vaccine becomes a school enrollment requirement is decided on a state-by-state basis.
Do women who've received the cervical cancer vaccine still need to have Pap tests?
Yes. The cervical cancer vaccine isn't intended to replace Pap tests. Routine screening for cervical cancer through regular pelvic exams and Pap tests remains an essential part of a woman's preventive health care.
What can you do to protect yourself from cervical cancer if you're not in the recommended vaccine age group?
HPV spreads through sexual contact. To protect yourself from HPV, use a condom every time you have sex and limit your number of sexual partners. In addition, don't smoke. Smoking doubles the risk of cervical cancer.
To detect cervical cancer in the earliest stages, see your health care provider for regular pelvic exams and Pap tests. Seek prompt medical attention if you notice any signs or symptoms of cervical cancer — vaginal bleeding after sex, between periods or after menopause, pelvic pain, or pain during sex.Previous page
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