This advertisement is presented by GARDASIL®9.
Debunking these myths is the first step towards better sexual health for Canadian women.
About three in four sexually active Canadians will contract some form of HPV (human papillomavirus) infection in their lifetime. So why aren’t we talking more openly about helping prevent it?
HPV can lead to cervical cancer, which claims the lives of about 400 Canadian women each year. It’s also the most common sexually transmitted infection (STI) in the world.
Whether you’re just starting a new relationship, re-entering the dating scene or want to help safeguard the health of both you and your long-term partner, it’s important to educate yourself. The more information we have about HPV, the better equipped we can be to help protect ourselves against it and take control of our health. Here are some common myths about HPV that need to be debunked:
Myth #1: Only ‘promiscuous’ women get HPV.
It’s not only people who have multiple sexual partners that are at risk for HPV. If you engage in any sexual contact at all, there’s a chance of contracting an infection. The stigmatization of STIs can stand in the way of pursuing proper prevention and treatment. HPV doesn’t discriminate, so all sexually active adults should be mindful of the risks. Start a dialogue with your healthcare professional about how to help protect yourself from HPV. If it feels uncomfortable to talk with your current medical practitioner, try visiting a walk-in women’s clinic.
Myth #2: I can’t get HPV if I use condoms.
You don’t need to have sex with someone to contract the HPV infection from them. HPV can be transmitted through skin-to-skin contact. Even if you’re not having intercourse, sexual contact of any kind can put you at risk of contracting HPV. Using proper protection can lower your risk and can protect you against other STIs, but there can be contact with areas of the skin not covered by a condom.
Myth #3: I can’t get HPV if I’m in a long-term relationship.
Even if you’re in a monogamous relationship and neither of you is showing symptoms of HPV, there’s still a chance of being infected. Since the infection often has no signs or symptoms, you may not be able to tell if either of you is infected. If you or your partner have had any previous partners, they may have unknowingly passed it on to you.
Myth #4: I’m not infected if I have no symptoms.
There are over 100 different types of HPV, and most of them present no obvious symptoms. Some forms of the infection will clear up on their own and people may pass them on to others without ever knowing they were infected. But other forms can be much more harmful. Some types of HPV can result in warts, inside or outside the body (usually on the genitals). Specific strains can be particularly harmful and can lead to precancerous cells in the cervix that may develop into cervical cancer. One way to help ensure early detection is to go for regular pap tests to have your cervix examined.
Myth #5: My lifestyle is too healthy to be at risk for HPV.
Cervical cancer is the third most common cancer among Canadian women between 20 and 40 years old, which could be considered some of the healthiest years of their life! In Canada alone, about 1,500 women are diagnosed with cervical cancer yearly. Ask your doctor about the HPV vaccine. You may be eligible for a free vaccination, otherwise, many insurance plans will cover some or all of the cost.
Myth #6: If I needed the HPV vaccine, my doctor would have told me.
While it might surprise you, some physicians may not bring up the topic of HPV vaccinations at all. It’s often up to you to make a request. Talk to your doctor about the GARDASIL®9 vaccine to find out if it’s right for you.
Myth #7: Adults are too old for the HPV vaccine.
One misconception about HPV is that the vaccination is meant only for children. GARDASIL®9, an HPV vaccine, can be used in women aged 9 to 45. Since younger girls are less likely to have been exposed to the virus, it’s usually administered for free in Canadian public schools. For women between the ages of 15 and 45, GARDASIL®9 should be administered as a three-dose schedule.
Becoming better informed is the first step towards helping to safeguard your sexual health—and the best way to do that is to start a dialogue with your friends, partner or healthcare professional.
In girls and women ages 9 to 45, GARDASIL®9 helps protect against cervical, vaginal, and vulvar cancers caused by HPV types 16, 18, 31, 33, 45, 52, and 58, abnormal and precancerous cervical lesions as found in a Pap test caused by HPV types 6, 11, 16, 18, 31, 33, 45, 52, and 58, abnormal and precancerous vaginal and vulvar lesions caused by HPV types 6, 11, 16, 18, 31, 33, 45, 52, and 58, and genital warts caused by HPV types 6 and 11. In girls, women, boys and men ages 9 to 26, GARDASIL®9 helps protect against anal cancer caused by HPV types 16, 18, 31, 33, 45, 52, and 58, and abnormal and precancerous anal lesions caused by HPV types 6, 11, 16, 18, 31, 33, 45, 52, and 58. It also helps protect boys and men ages 9 to 26 against genital warts caused by HPV types 6 and 11. GARDASIL®9 does not treat HPV infection. GARDASIL®9 may not fully protect each person who gets it. GARDASIL®9 does not remove the need for cervical cancer screening; women should still get routine cervical cancer screening. GARDASIL®9 is not recommended for use in pregnant women. As with other vaccines, GARDASIL®9 may cause some side effects and allergic reactions. The most common side effects seen are pain, swelling, redness, itching, bruising, bleeding, a lump where the shot is given, headache, fever, nausea, dizziness, tiredness, diarrhea, abdominal pain and sore throat. Contact your doctor or healthcare professional to see if GARDASIL®9 is right for you. For more information, please visit gardasil9.ca.
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