It’s common to have a few unanswered questions even after you’ve done your fair share of research on the HPV vaccination in Singapore. This might include wondering if high-risk HPV strains only cause cancer amongst females and if men can opt to be vaccinated against HPV. 

Almost all cervical cancer is caused by HPV and up to 93% of them are preventable. However, many people are still confused by the efficacy of the vaccination on men, as well as the modes of transmission of the virus. We’re here to look at the facts and clarify any doubts you might have about HPV and HPV vaccination. 

5 most common myths about the HPV vaccination in Singapore, debunked

Infographic on the common myths about HPV vaccination in Singapore

Myth 1: Only promiscuous people get HPV

You can get HPV the very first time you have sexual contact. HPV is passed on through skin to skin contact of the genital area, hence anyone who has ever had any kind of sexual contact is at risk.

If you have had multiple sexual partners, or your partner has, you will have a higher chance of getting this virus. However, HPV is really common, you can get it even if you have only ever had one sexual partner. 

HPV can stay inactive in the body for many years or even decades! So if you have a long term partner and find out you have HPV, it does not mean they have been unfaithful.

Opting for an HPV vaccination in Singapore before you start exploring sexually is a great way to give you peace of mind. 

Myth 2: Getting an HPV vaccination in Singapore is unsafe and has many side effects 

Woman feeling nauseous after an HPV vaccination in Singapore

Like any vaccination, an HPV vaccination does have a risk of side effects. However, most of the side effects are mild. 

There’s a common misconception that the HPV vaccine could lead to infertility. Extensive trials and observations have shown that the vaccine does not affect reproductive ability.

After getting an HPV vaccination in Singapore, you might experience some of these side effects: 

  • Pain, redness or swelling in the arm from the shot
  • Mild fever
  • Fatigue 
  • Headache 
  • Nausea
  • Feeling faint 
  • Muscle or joint pain

Rest assured that all these side effects are perfectly normal. But if you experience any of the above after your jab, do inform your doctor. 

If you’re allergic to certain chemicals or medication, speak to your doctor about whether getting an HPV vaccination is suitable for you. 

Read more about the five things to know about HPV vaccination here.

Myth 3: The HPV vaccine only works if I’m a female 

While it’s true that the HPV vaccine has been heavily encouraged to prevent cervical cancer, it can also prevent males from HPV infection risks like genital warts and cancer

Low-risk strains of HPV can cause genital warts in both females and males. But high-risk strains of HPV — what the HPV vaccine protects against — are the ones that can cause cancer. 

HPV has been known to cause vaginal, cervical, anal and penile cancers. It can also cause mouth and throat cancers if the virus is transmitted through oral sexual activity. These cancers affect both males and females, which is why males also benefit from HPV vaccinations. 

Read more about cervical cancer and health screenings in Singapore here.

Getting vaccinated as a male also helps to reduce the risks of HPV transmission to women. 

If you’re a male, understanding the risks and consequences of an HPV infection can help to prevent HPV spread among your loved ones. 

The HPV vaccine is best given before sexual activity begins and before any exposure to HPV.

Myth 4: It doesn’t matter which HPV vaccination in Singapore I get, they’re all the same

This is untrue. HPV consists of over 100 different strains. Out of these strains, only a dozen are capable of causing cancer. 

Different HPV vaccinations target different strains of the virus. Currently, the HPV vaccinations offered in Singapore are Cervarix, Gardasil 4 and Gardasil 9. 

Each prevents against different HPV strains. Gardasil 9 is the strongest of the lot as it protects you against the widest range of high-risk HPV types—6, 11, 16, 18, 31, 33, 45, 52 and 58. 

Gardasil 4—the most common vaccine choice in Singapore—protects against four of the most common high-risk strains of HPV: 6, 11, 16 and 18. 

On the other hand, Cervarix only protects against two strains—16 and 18. These two strains are known to cause the majority of cervical cancers in Singapore. All three vaccinations cover against strains 16 and 18. 

Here’s a table showing the different types of HPV vaccinations in Singapore and their coverage against HPV infections. 

CervarixGardasil 4Gardasil 9
HPV strains it protects against16, 186, 11, 16, 186, 11, 16, 18, 31, 33, 45, 52, 58
What the vaccination prevents Cervical cancer and premalignant cervical lesions (caused by types 16 and 18)– Cervical, vaginal, anal and vulvar cancer (caused by types 16 and 18)
– Prevents premalignant lesions in the areas above 
– Prevents genital warts 
– Cervical, vaginal, anal and vulvar cancer (caused by types 16, 18, 31, 33, 45, 52 and 58)
– Prevents premalignant lesions in the areas above 
– Prevents genital warts 
Where you can get it All polyclinics, some GPsDSC clinic, GPs, private hospitalsDSC clinic, GPs, private hospitals 
Recommended for Only womenBoth men and womenBoth men and women
Can you use Medisave*?
*only women up to age 26 can use their Medisave to pay for HPV vaccinations in Singapore 
Yes (up to $500)Yes (up to $500)No

Be sure to choose a vaccine depending on the extent of coverage you’re looking for and any pre-existing health conditions you might have. 

Myth 5: I am too old to get an HPV vaccination in Singapore 

You’ve likely read countless articles about how the HPV vaccination should be administered from ages nine to 26. 

The HPV vaccine is indeed more effective the earlier you get vaccinated. This is also because you’re less likely to be exposed to HPV types during adolescence, compared to when you’re older. 

Once you’ve had your first sexual experience, it can be difficult to guarantee that you haven’t been exposed to high-risk HPV strains. You’re likely to be the most sexually active in your twenties, which is why manufacturers of the vaccine and health experts recommend people from ages nine to 26 years to get their HPV vaccinations. 

This doesn’t mean that the HPV vaccine is out of the question if you’re above the recommended age. In fact, the Gardasil 9 vaccination is approved for women and men up to the ages of 45. 

The HPV vaccination won’t be as effective if you choose to get vaccinated after you’ve become sexually active. This is because the vaccination is a preventive measure, and not a treatment option. 

Yet, the HPV vaccination can still guard you against strains of HPV that you haven’t been exposed to. This is why the earlier you get vaccinated, the better your odds are when it comes to prevention against high-risk HPV strains.

Talk to your doctor to find out if you’re suitable for the HPV vaccine in Singapore. It’s important to note that the HPV vaccine does not guarantee 100% protection against cancer. 

Regular checkups are still essential for the early detection of abnormalities when it comes to your health, even if you’ve been vaccinated. Health screenings are crucial in the early detection of many conditions. Read about your options here.

Get your HPV vaccination in Singapore today

Now that you know the facts about getting an HPV vaccination in Singapore, give your doctor a visit to check out the prices and learn more about the procedure. 

Too busy to head down to your local GP? Chat with the doctors from Dr Tan & Partners (DTAP), and get personal sexual health advice from professional medical experts. 

With MyDoc, you can get your sexual health questions answered quickly and conveniently. Ease your worries with just a click! 

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