Moms never forget to have kids vaccinated, but neglect to have ourselves protected too.
However, older women should also get vaccines. As we age, our immune system drops and we become more prone to getting sick. Plus, the mere fact of being a woman makes us prone to certain disease, such as cervical cancer. In fact, cervical cancer is the leading cause of death among women in the United States (see the report of the Center of Disease Control).
Today, there is a vaccine that can help protect us from cervical cancer. Here is a straightforward guide on what older women need to know about the HPV vaccine, served fresh in o5.com’s recipes for life.
What is the HPV Virus?
Older women are encouraged to be vaccinated against the human papiloma virus (HPV). HPV is a virus transmitted through skin to skin contact, but only through specific types of skin cells. You can’t get it by shaking someone’s hand. Studies show that the disease is most easily spread through sexual contact.
Because of that, women become at risk for HPV virus the moment they become sexually active. However, there are a few cases of people who have never had sex (or have only had sex with one partner) mysteriously coming down with an HPV virus.
How do I know that I have the HPV virus?
It can take many years before you know that you have the HPV virus. In and of itself, it does not make you feel sick. You won’t experience any symptoms. Instead, it infects the cells of the cervix. So many years later—sometimes 5, 10 or 20—the virus affects the human DNA and leads to cancer cells.
How do doctors detect HPV virus?
HPV is usually detected through pap smears. The doctor has to ask for a specific pap smear to isolate any organisms that have been associated with a high risk for cancer.
How else can the HPV virus affect the body?
HPV is mostly associated with cervical cancer but it can cause other cancers, too:vaginal cancer, vulvar cancer, anal cancer, head and neck cancers—the tongue, back of the throat, lymph nodes, face, head, neck structures.
How can I protect myself form HPV virus?
The HPV vaccine is the best known protection against the HPV virus. The injection is administered in three separate session, and doctors recommend booster shots every few years. It is also important to get regular screenings for HPV virus.
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