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HPV Vaccine: How Effective is it in Protecting You Against the Virus?

Medically reviewed by Mike Kenneth Go Doratan, MD · General Surgery · The Medical City Ortigas

Written by Ruby Anne Hornillos · Updated 2 weeks ago

HPV Vaccine: How Effective is it in Protecting You Against the Virus?

Vaccines are effective in lowering the risk of infections, disease symptoms, and other health-related concerns caused by viruses like the human papillomavirus—or  HPV. Keep reading to learn quick but important facts about the HPV vaccine.

What is the HPV Vaccine?

The HPV vaccine protects people from getting infected with the human papillomavirus or HPV. This includes cancer of the cervix, vagina, and penis, as well as cancers of the anus and throat. The vaccine also prevents genital warts caused by HPV. Keep in mind that vaccines in general are preventive measures—and the same is true for the HPV vaccine. It does not treat existing infections but rather protects those who have yet to be infected against the possible harmful effects of the disease. 

How Does it Work?

Similar to other vaccines, the HPV vaccine stimulates the body so that it produces antibodies specific to fighting HPV. These antibodies will bind to the HPV virus that invade the body and stop it from infecting other cells, helping prevent serious health problems. 

Note that the vaccine does not contain the infectious virus itself, but virus-like particles (VLPs). VLPs closely resemble the actual virus. They, in essence, introduce and familiarize the body with the HPV virus so it knows how to protect you if you do encounter the virus in the future.  

Is it Only for Women?

The vaccine is not only for women; it is recommended that both men and women get the vaccine. As mentioned earlier, the HPV vaccine can prevent several types of cancer in women. In men, it can also prevent HPV-related cancers such as anal, throat, and mouth. Also, it prevents the development of genital warts in both sexes.

Additionally, researchers believe that males who get vaccinated for the HPV strain that causes cervical cancer decrease HPV transmission in women. This then reduces women’s risk of cervical cancer down the line. 

What is the Process for Vaccination?

The HPV vaccine is injected into the patient’s upper arm. It is a series of shots; how many shots you get usually depends on your age.

When Should I Get it?

The HPV vaccine should be given before a patient is sexually active.

Ideally, boys and girls will get their first dose around 11-12 years old. The second dose is given 6-12 months after the first dose. 

On the other hand, adolescents who receive the vaccine when they are 15 years old or older will need three doses over the course of six months

 For those 27 years old and older, consultation with a doctor for the possible benefits of receiving the vaccine at a later age is recommended. People should not get the vaccine if they are pregnant.

Can I Have Sex After I Get the Vaccine? 

Most people can engage in sexual intercourse after they finish their full series of shots. It is ideal that individuals receive their HPV vaccine shots before they are sexually active.

Even after getting vaccinated, it is always best to practice safe sex by wearing a condom to prevent STIs and STDs. The HPV vaccine does not protect you from other STDs and STIs; it can only protect you from HPV and its health-related concerns.

How Long Will it Work?

Research suggests that the HPV vaccine lasts for a long time.  Studies that followed HPV vaccine recipients for 10 years have shown no evidence that the vaccine is less protective over time. 

Is it Effective?

HPV vaccines have excellent trial results, ensuring the public that the FDA-approved vaccines are safe and effective for most people to get. 

According to the CDC, HPV vaccines helped drop HPV infections that would cause genital warts and most HPV cancers by 86% in teen girls. The decrease was at 71% for young adult women.

Additionally, the CDC reported that there was a 40% drop in cervical precancers that would come from HPV strains linked to cervical cancer in vaccinated women.

There are also studies that show why it is important for men to get the HPV vaccine, such as preventing cancers of the penis, anus, neck, and head.

Key Takeaways

Vaccination is an effective way to protect you from HPV and its potential health risks. Remember though, while the HPV vaccine protects you from this specific virus, it does not cover other STDs. Always practice safe sex.

Learn more about HPV here


Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

Medically reviewed by

Mike Kenneth Go Doratan, MD

General Surgery · The Medical City Ortigas

Written by Ruby Anne Hornillos · Updated 2 weeks ago

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