Table of contents:
- What you need to know about the human papillomavirus?
- What really protects against HPV and cervical cancer?
- Can HPV vaccine cause infertility?
Perhaps none of the viruses existing in the world, including the most talked about today - coronavirus, is accompanied by as many rumors and myths as HPV. Some represent him as a formidable unknown monster, others simply do not attach importance to him.
Anna Viktorovna Dobychina obstetrician-gynecologist, surgeon at the REMEDI Institute of Reproductive Medicine
What you need to know about the human papillomavirus?
The truth is, the human papillomavirus (HPV) is very diverse. In total, scientists know more than 200 types of human papilloma viruses, which can cause warts, condylomas, papillomas, and in some cases even cancer.
Another feature of HPV is that its varieties differ in the way they are transmitted from person to person. There are those that are only sexually transmitted. But the contact-household method is also possible, including from skin to skin or from mucous membrane to mucous membrane.
Many are scared that HPV is causing cervical cancer. On the one hand, women's fears are justified, because there are highly oncogenic and low oncogenic types of the virus. The first, alas, really cause oncology. But not immediately and not always. For a very long time, the papilloma virus circulates in the cervix. In this case, it is transferred to the partner. Sometimes, after 5-10 years, the virus gradually begins to invade the walls of the cervix. Dysplasia develops, and possibly cancer. And in some cases, if the immune system is good, the virus can even leave the body.
However, 99% of cases of cervical cancer are associated with highly oncogenic HPV. Unfortunately, the situation is complicated by the fact that the virus passes through the membrane of the condom. It protects against all other infections, including HIV, hepatitis, syphilis, etc., and HPV is so small that it easily penetrates this contraceptive. True, a condom still reduces the amount of the virus passing through, so it should never be abandoned.
What really protects against HPV and cervical cancer?
Modern doctors confidently say that vaccination can be a salvation. At the moment, there are two vaccines: cervarix (bivalent - protects against the virus of types 16 and 18) and Gardasil (tetravalent - against the virus of types 9, 11, 16, 18). Cross-reaction has been proven. This is the production of antibodies against other types of the virus.
The latest research on a nine-valent vaccine (Gardasil 9) is underway abroad. It protects against nine types of HPV. Its effectiveness for those who have not previously encountered this virus is 97-100%. If the contact has already taken place, then the effectiveness is 44–61%.
That is why it is better to vaccinate children, or rather adolescent girls aged 9-13 years. It is enough for them to be vaccinated twice. The second vaccination is given six months after the first. Girls over 15 years old are recommended to be vaccinated in three approaches: one month after the first vaccine and six months later.
In Russia, HPV vaccination is included in the national calendar. Vaccination of girls aged 9-15 years, with the written consent of the parent, is usually carried out in schools or in children's clinics.
The World Health Organization recommends immunizing girls between the ages of nine and 13. But if in a woman's life there was no meeting with the human papillomavirus, it is not too late to get vaccinated at 45 years old.
In some countries, boys are also vaccinated against HPV. There is evidence that this measure prevents the development of genital cancer, rectal cancer and warts in men.
Can HPV vaccine cause infertility?
It is impossible to become infected with HPV after vaccination. Recombinant vaccines do not contain live viruses, they contain so-called fragments, particles, capsules of the virus, which are reproduced in laboratory conditions.Antibodies are produced against these components, and a protective reaction is formed.
In addition to preventive vaccinations against HPV, a therapeutic one may soon appear, which will be administered in the presence of human papillomavirus, dysplasia, or even cervical cancer. Laboratory tests are already underway. But it is better to prevent a serious illness than to deal with it for a long time and difficult.
In Russia, the HPV vaccine has been used since 2007, and abroad it has been even longer. The effectiveness of the vaccine has been proven many times. For example, in 2017, as part of a study, scientists from the University of Alabama monitored the condition of more than 14 thousand women for six years after immunization. Gynecological examinations, laboratory blood tests for antibodies showed a persistent effect of protection against HPV in 97% (!) Of cases.
Many girls who were vaccinated against HPV got married and had children. Nevertheless, the myth that such vaccination causes infertility is still alive. Well, what can you do!
We do not argue that side effects from the vaccination are not excluded. The vast majority of patients tolerate the injection calmly, but some may have redness, swelling, or even fainting. But nothing more.
The main prevention of HPV is vaccination, and then regular visits to the gynecologist to examine the cervix, take smears for cytology, HPV test.