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What Parents Should Know About the HPV, or Cervical Cancer, Vaccine

Does your daughter need the HPV vaccine to help protect against cervical cancer? Get the latest medical information on the HPV vaccine here.

What Concerns Do Parents Have about the HPV Vaccine? continued...

The CDC recommends that girls and women, even after vaccination, continue to practice "protective sexual behaviors:"

  • Abstinence.
  • Monogamy.
  • Limiting the number of sexual partners.
  • Using condoms, which offer some, but not complete, protection against HPV, HIV, and other sexually transmitted infections.

Remember that although your daughter may lower her risk through abstinence and monogamy, she could still get HPV after a sexual assault or from an infected spouse. Infection can result after even one sexual encounter.

Regular Pap Smears: Another Way to Fight Cervical Cancer

Whether or not you give your daughter the HPV vaccine, one thing is clear: Regular Pap smears remain crucial for fighting cervical cancer. Even girls and women who receive the HPV vaccine aren't protected from all cancer-causing HPVs. Pap smears find early changes in the cervix that can lead to cancer. Catching problems early provides the chance for more effective treatment.

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommends starting Pap screening in girls and young women as follows:

  • Within 3 years of becoming sexually active.
  • By age 21.

Most girls taking the vaccine will probably need fewer Pap smears taken at longer intervals over their lifetimes.

Reviewed on May 05, 2008

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