But hey, there's a vaccine. Gardasil, a set of three shots administered by your medical provider, can prevent some of the most typical strains. The US Center for Disease Control and Prevention recommends it to men until age 21, and women until 26.
Obviously, there are the anti-vaxxers. Natural health expert Dr. Joseph Mercola urges women against Gardasil on his website, citing research that females vaccinated against HPV may have a higher risk of developing those strains the vaccine doesn’t protect. “Routine pap smear testing is a far more rational, less expensive, and a less dangerous strategy for cervical cancer prevention,” he writes.
But for others like Dr. Jason James, a Miami-based OB-GYN, it’s a serious recommendation. “In the short time HPV vaccines have been available, we’ve seen a significant decrease in abnormal pap smears,” he says. “Overall, the data says it’s sound and effective.”