Gardasil and Genital Warts
Genital warts are caused by HPV. Symptoms of genital warts include skin-colored growths, much like warts on other parts of the body. They are usually not painful. Male genital warts usually occur on the penis, and female genital warts can occur outside (on the vulva) or inside (on the vagina or cervix). Genital warts can also occur on the scrotum or anus. Oral HPV warts can occur through oral sex.
HPV warts are very common and are easily spread through sexual contact. Condoms do not fully protect against HPV, as they often do not cover all the warts. Treatments for genital warts include several ways to remove the warts (such as with chemical treatments or freezing). For more information, talk to your healthcare provider about genital wart treatment. Over-the-counter wart products should never be used for the treatment of genital warts. There is no way to cure genital warts, and warts may disappear and return on their own.
Gardasil protects against the HPV types that cause 90 percent of all genital wart cases. Gardasil is not used to treat genital warts that are already present. However, even if you have been infected with one type of HPV, Gardasil can still protect you from the other types. Although Gardasil will not treat the genital warts virus or the symptoms for genital warts, having genital warts should not stop you from getting the Gardasil vaccine. Even if you have genital warts, Gardasil can help prevent you from getting the other types of HPV that might cause cervical cancer.
Gardasil and Cancer
Gardasil is approved to prevent HPV-related cancers of the vagina, vulva, cervix, and anus. The cervix is the lower part of the uterus that opens into the vagina. Cancer of the cervix is a serious disease that can be life-threatening if not caught early. This is why cervical cancer screening (such as a Pap test) is so important.
Symptoms of cervical cancer include unusual vaginal bleeding and vaginal bleeding after sexual intercourse. Often though, there are no early symptoms of cervical cancer. Cervical cancer treatment includes surgery, radiation, and chemotherapy, depending on the stages of cervical cancer. Cervical cancer stages are a way of categorizing the severity of the cancer.
The cervical cancer vaccine (Gardasil) protects against several types of HPV, including types 16 and 18 (high-risk HPV types). At least 70 percent of cervical cancer is caused by these two types. Gardasil can help prevent infection with HPV and can prevent HPV cervical cancer. However, Gardasil will not prevent cervical cancer from other causes. It also will not treat cervical cancer or symptoms of HPV once they are present.