Gardasil, HPV & PAPs...Oh My!

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Gardasil, HPV & PAPs...Oh My!

This week's article covers several overlapping topics, so keep up because we're going to cover quite a bit of information!  We'll first look at the intersection of preventative health screenings and vaccines, and then throw in a dash of safe sex tips for good measure.  Let's start with some myth busting: 


·         Myth:  Lesbians don't need PAPs. 

"Gold Star Lesbian" or not, cervical cancer doesn't discriminate based on who you sleep with, so get the PAP as recommended by your medical provider.  PAPs are one of the best preventative screening tools that should be a part of every woman's medical routine regardless of sexual orientation.


·         Myth:  Transmen don't need PAPs/pelvic exams.

Anyone with a uterus/cervix needs routine screening of those parts.  This can be a little tricky for trans guys, as insurance typically won't pay for a PAP if you have a male gender designated on your insurance.  It is, however, essential for trans guys to keep up with this screening particularly when on testosterone, because these organs may atrophy in the absence of estrogen.  I usually tell folks that, even though it can feel weird and uncomfortable to get the PAP, it can be much worse to skip it and end up with a major issue later on.  Talk with the doctor who prescribes your hormones about doing your next PAP, since they clearly have some level of competency around trans* health care. Although it can feel uncomfortable to navigate the medical world with conflicting documents (ID vs. insurance), it may be beneficial in the long run to keep the gender marked on your insurance that matches your body's needs (i.e. insure your body parts, not necessarily your identity). 


·         Myth:  HPV is something that only straight women have to worry about. 

This myth is far too prominent in the queer community, so let's start with the basics.  What the hell is HPV and why should dykes care?  HPV (human papilloma viruses) is actually a group of over 150 related viruses.  Out of the more than 150 HPV related viruses, approximately 40 or so can be sexually transmitted and, yes, women can give it to other women through sexual contact so pay attention.  Lesbians, or anyone regardless of how you identify, can contract HPV from skin-to-skin and genital-to-genital contact or by sharing sex toys with others.  Some low risk strains of HPV will eventually clear themselves

Comments [1]

Joanne Robertson's picture

Very informative

Thank you! Smile