I cringed at the amount I will have to spend per session because I'm really such a cheapo. But then again, I figured that I'm in my thirties already, and therefore the risks of being infected with cervical cancer is only getting higher. The hospital bills will definitely be fifty times more than the cost of the vaccinations if I do catch the disease.
I learned that cervical cancer is the second highest leading cause of death in women. That's enough to scare me. So as cliche as it may sound, I told myself that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.
What is cervical cancer?
Cervical cancer is the abnormal growth of cells in the cervix caused by HPV. Cervix is the organ that connects the uterus and vagina. The cancer usually develops slowly and hardly shows any symptoms such that it is not easily detected unless a woman goes through a pap smear test.
What is HPV?
Human Papillomavirus or HPV is a viral infection that could be passed on through sexual contact. However, there are recent studies that show it could be transmitted through non-sexual means also. There are about 100 different HPV viruses but some of these are harmless. 30 strains are identified to cause cancer. There is still no cure to HPV, but thanks to medical science, it could now be prevented.
What is Cervarix?
Cervarix HPV Vaccine is a recent medical breakthrough of GlaxoSmithKline. It protects women against 2 strains of HPV (16 and 18). Cervarix boosts a woman's immune system to fight the HPV strains. You only need three vaccinations and after that, as my doctor-friend said, you are practically protected for life . The first and second shots are given in one month interval. The third shot is given six months after the second session.
From my personal experience so far (after two shots), there are no side effects except for the normal after-pains of an injection. Your arm will feel a bit heavy for about two days. You could try applying ice a few minutes before and after the injection to lessen the pain. However, it may also depend on the tolerance level for pain of the patient.
It is also important to note that Cervarix could only protect against HPV16 and HPV18, two strains that cause 70% of cervical cancer cases. Women are still advised to undergo regular pap smear tests even after vaccination.
Women aged 18 to 45 years old are highly advised to be vaccinated. For more information and clarification, consult your doctor.