- My daughter isn't even a teen yet. Why should I worry about HPV now?
Because HPV can cause health problems such as cervical cancer, genital warts, and other types of cancer, it's never too early to think about protecting your daughter. You and your daughter can take simple measures now to help prevent or minimize the risk of HPV and its complications.
It's important not to think it's too late, even if your daughter has already started sexual activity. There are still many things you can do to help protect her against HPV and other sexually transmitted infections.
So talk to your doctor about all the options available to help protect your daughter from HPV.
- Can HPV be cured?
No, unfortunately, there is no cure for HPV yet. Genital warts and abnormal cervical cells can be removed, but the virus will stay in your body. Often, your body can get rid of the virus on its own, but sometimes it might not. The best thing is to prevent being infected in the first place. Talk to your doctor or your daughter's doctor about all the options for protecting your daughter against HPV infection and the problems it can cause, such as cervical cancer and genital warts.
- What can I do to protect my daughter from HPV infection?
There are 3 main ways to help reduce your daughter's risk of HPV infection:
At what age can girls receive HPV vaccination and how is it given?
HPV vaccination is available to girls and young women at least 9 years of age. There are two HPV vaccines available in Canada. One of the vaccines is for girls and young women 9 to 45 years of age; the other is for girls and young women 10 to 25 years of age. They both help protect against some types of HPV that can lead to cervical cancer.
According to the National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI), the best time for a girl to be vaccinated is before she becomes sexually active, because she will not have had a chance to become infected with certain types of HPV. However, HPV vaccination is still useful for girls and young women who are already sexually active.
Based on NACI's recommendations, all provinces and territories offer publicly funded HPV vaccination as part of the routine immunization schedule. Depending on the province or territory, HPV vaccination is given to females between grades 4 and 9. HPV vaccination is provided free of charge, similar to routine vaccinations such as for measles, mumps, rubella, or tetanus.
HPV vaccination can also be used for women who have already had abnormal pap tests, genital warts, cervical cancer, or abnormal cervical cells, since vaccination may still protect them from other HPV types that they have not yet encountered. However, HPV vaccination is not a treatment for cervical cancer, genital warts, or abnormal cervical cells.
HPV vaccination can be given in a doctor's office or clinic in 3 separate doses that are given within 6 months. The vaccines are given as an injection into the upper arm or thigh muscle.Note that one of the vaccines can also be given to boys and young men aged 9 to 26 years to help protect against HPV infection.
- If vaccination doesn't cover all HPV types, why should my daughter get vaccinated?
HPV vaccination doesn't protect against all types of HPV, but both HPV vaccines available in Canada help protect against the 2 types of HPV that cause 70% of cervical cancers. One HPV vaccine also provides protection against the 2 types of HPV that cause 90% of all genital warts. By vaccinating your daughter against these types of HPV, you are helping to reduce her risk of abnormal vaginal and cervical cells, cervical cancer, genital warts, vaginal cancer, vulvar cancer, and anal cancer.
- Is my daughter old enough for a Pap test?
She will always be your little girl, but your daughter is growing up before your eyes. Remember, a Pap test is one of the best screening methods for detecting abnormal cervical cells and cervical cancer. It's estimated that up to 50% of the women who are diagnosed with cervical cancer did not get regular Pap tests.
Pap tests should be started within 3 years of a woman's first sexual encounter, or by age 18, whichever comes first. Encourage your daughter not to put off going for a Pap test.
Explain to your daughter that the Pap test can find abnormal cells in her cervix before they can do any damage. While these abnormal cells aren't dangerous now, they can develop into cancer. If they are found early enough, cervical cancer can be prevented by having the offending cells removed.
Talk to your daughter about the importance of having regular Pap tests and checkups to help prevent cervical cancer.
What women need to know about HPV