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I got my first HPV shot about a month ago. I haven't had sex before. I'm going to get my 3rd shot in about 5 months. Can I have protected sex before I get my 3rd shot, or is it not worth the risk?

Gardasil is a vaccine that prevents again some of the higher-risk strains of HPV, the Human Papilloma Virus.  Gardasil is approved for anyone aged 9-26 years old. It is given in a series of three shots. Gardasil covers types 6,11,16, and18 — the strains of HPV which account for about 70% of cervical cancer cases and 90% of genital warts cases.

Unfortunately there is risk involved in all forms of sexual activity. Abstinence is the only way to 100% prevent STIs and pregnancy. Using condoms and dental dams will help reduce your risk of contracting an STI. So ultimately, we can’t really advise you to wait or not to wait, but we can educate you on the risks and benefits. If you wait to have any type of sexual interaction until after you complete the series, you’ll be 70% protected from the high-risk strains of HPV (the ones that can lead to cervical cancer), and 90% protected from lower-risk strains like genital warts.

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