The two best ways to avoid getting HPV are by practicing safe sex
and getting vaccinated
. Older guidelines recommend the HPV vaccine Gardasil for females between the ages of 11 and 26, and for males through age 21. The current guidelines now state that both men and women between the ages of 27 and 45 who have not been previously vaccinated for HPV are now eligible for Gardasil 9. The complete vaccination series involves two or three doses.
- Two doses. Two doses of the vaccine are recommended for most people before their 15th birthday. The second dose should be given between 6 to 12 months after the first dose.
- Three doses. Three doses are recommended for anyone who gets their first dose between 15 and 26 years old, or for anyone with a compromised immune system.
You need to get the complete series of vaccinations to be fully protected. If you didn’t get vaccinated before becoming pregnant, or you started the vaccine series but didn’t finish it, you’ll need to wait until after giving birth to get or complete the vaccine. The guidelines don’t recommend the HPV vaccine for pregnant women.
Why isn’t the HPV vaccine recommended for pregnant women? According to the CDC, the HPV vaccine hasn’t been shown to have negative effects during pregnancy. However, data is limited on vaccination during pregnancy. Therefore, they recommend postponing vaccination until after pregnancy.
If you’re over 30, see your OB-GYN to get HPV tests alongside your routine Pap test. That way, you can talk with your doctor about any special monitoring you might need during pregnancy if you discover you have HPV. Remember that nearly all sexually active adults will get HPV at some point in their lives. Consistently practicing safe sex and getting tested will help prevent STIs.