Gardasil Marketed for Males to Prevent Genital Warts (and other ways men can prevent STDs)

Merely Me Health Guide
  • There may soon be a new way for boys and young men to protect themselves from one symptom of sexually transmitted disease.  Merck, the manufacturer of Gardasil (the drug used to vaccinate young women against cervical cancer) may get FDA approval to also use this drug as a vaccine against genital warts in males who are from 9 to 26 years of age.  


    Both genital warts and cervical cancer can result from the human papilloma virus, or HPV. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate that 6.2 million people are diagnosed each year who have HPV.  High risk HPV is what can cause cancer in the cells of the cervix for women and low risk HPV can cause genital warts for both women and men.  You may read more about the HPV virus and genital warts here

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    Advocates for FDA approval for the use of this drug for men, say that giving Gardasil to males will also protect females.  They reason that this drug may hinder the transmission of the HPV virus from potential male carriers to their female partners.  Many doctors are saying that by giving males this vaccine, it will further decrease the incidence of cervical cancer in females.  And in addition to preventing genital warts in men, it may also prevent men from HPV infections which could lead to head, neck, anal, and penile cancers.


    ABC News reports that while some doctors are advocating for the use of this vaccine many others are taking a conservative approach and waiting for the results of further research.  Some are asking about the limits of the vaccine as to how long it is effective and if multiple doses will be necessary.  Others want to know the optimal age to deliver such a vaccine to boys. It is also debated as to whether parents will be eager or not to get their son this vaccine.


    The FDA decides on Wednesday, September 16th, whether Gardasil will be approved for males.


    The human papilloma virus is but one type of sexually transmitted infection which can be passed on from males to their female partners.  There are a host of other sexually transmitted diseases including genital herpes, Gonorrhea, Chlamydia, Syphilis, and HIV to name a few.  How do men protect themselves and their female partners from these diseases? 



    Most of the literature agrees that if men take the following steps, they will reduce their chances of acquiring an STD and passing it on to their sexual partner:

    • Limit the number of sexual partners you have. The more partners you have, the more the odds go up for you to contract an STD.

    • Avoid the one night stands and having sex with people you don't know very well.
      Avoid having sex with people who have multiple sexual partners.

    • Avoid sex with people who are being treated for a sexual disease.

    • Avoid sexual practices which may tear the skin. Anal sex is considered risky because skin tissue in the rectum can tear easily. Infection can easily be transmitted through even the slightest cut or tear.

    • Avoid having sexual relations with anyone who has visible lesions on their genitalia.

    • And aside from total abstinence from sex, probably the best way for a male to prevent getting an STD is to wear a condom.  But it can't be just any condom.  And spermicide may not protect you from STD's. The The US Department of Health and Human Services  gives this advice about condoms:  "Use a latex condom-Using a latex condom every time you have vaginal, oral, or anal sex decreases the chances of infection. Condoms lubricated with spermicides do not offer extra protection. Frequent use of some spermicides can increase the risk of HIV."


  • Tips for finding the right condom and making sure it doesn't break:

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    • Make sure that you use a latex (rubber) condom as these are the type of condom which are known to prevent transmission of the HIV, hepatitis and herpes viruses. Lambskin condoms may not provide this protection.

    • Don't buy novelty condoms or any condom which does not say on the package that the condoms are to prevent disease.

    • Make sure that the condom is not too small or too large. You don't want it to break or to fall off.

    • Do not use condoms which are expired. Most condom wrappers have a date of expiration after which they should not be used as they may be more susceptible to break.

    • Don't store your condoms in a hot place as heat can damage latex condoms.

    • Don't use lubricants which contain oil such as baby oil, vegetable oil or Vaseline as these can weaken the rubber. Use a water soluble lubricant such as KY jelly.

    Having sexual relations can seem like a risky venture.  But there are known ways to lessen the risk of acquiring an STD.  It seems that research may yield even more ways to prevent STD's through new vaccines, some specifically geared for males.  In the meantime, your best bet?  If you are going to have sex, use a condom.


Published On: September 14, 2009