Dr Mini Salunkhe: Is HPV vaccine against Cervical Cancer effective?

Here are questions from readers that were addressed by leading obstetrician and gynaecologist Dr Mini Salunkhe. The identities of the solution-seekers have been withheld to protect their privacy.

I just heard of the HPV vaccine against Cervical Cancer. Is this really effective in preventing the life threatening malaise, Doctor? I hear it’s very expensive and hence thought it best to check with you. Does it have any side-effects? Kindly advise me. 

The HPV vaccine can prevent almost 90% of genital warts and close to 70% of the cases of Cervical Cancer. The protection from this vaccine is supposed to be long lasting. However, it is recommended that even vaccinated women must screen for cervical cancer with pap smears, etc since the vaccine doesn’t protect against all HPV strains that lead to cervical cancer. The vaccine is recommended in the pubertal age group, pre-teens group. Like any other vaccine, HPV vaccine is also known to have a few side-effects, ranging from mild pain at the injection site, fever and fainting to more adverse conditions like chronic fatigue, autoimmune reactions and neurological disorders.

I gave birth to my child around three months back. I still feel a bit weak and unable to work for long hours. However, I want to be able to stretch out a bit and get some exercise done. I got a cesarean done and the stitches are still quite prominent. How many more months will it take to heal completely? Please advise me, doctor. 

Recovering from a caesarean section usually takes six to eight weeks. It usually takes six weeks for the uterus to involute completely, that is, get back to its original size. You can start normal exercise; Abdominal and back exercises post this period. However, I recommend that you ask your gynaecologist as to when its ok for you to start exercise and go back to your normal routine. Focus on good nutrition since you are breast feeding and drink plenty of water too. It’s important to take adequate supplements like iron, calcium coupled with proprietary protein powders for as long as your doctor recommends.

Dear Doctor, how many days after giving birth is it safe to start having sex?

We usually recommend waiting for six weeks after child birth to restart sexual intercourse. There are many reasons for this period of abstinence; The uterus takes six weeks to involute and come back to normal size. During this time, you may still be bleeding and may have ‘Lochial discharge’. If you have had a normal delivery with an episiotomy, it may take a few weeks for the episiotomy to heal completely and be pain free. In the event of you having had a Caesarian section, the scar would take six to eight weeks to heal completely.

Doctor, I am eight months pregnant, though I am extremely excited to enter this new phase of my life, I am going through ‘pre-birth jitters’. I am quite close to my date of conceiving and thoughts of how painful childbirth is don’t leave me. This leaves me extremely stressed and restless, what should I do?

It’s quite natural to suffer from pre-birth jitters and to be anxious about child birth. Yes, there are several ways by which you can reduce your fears of childbirth. Try and talk to your doctor, family and friends about your intense anxiety well in advance. They will definitely cheer you up. Couple counselling sessions as part of pre-natal classes also go a long way in alleviating anxiety. Learn relaxation skills like deep breathing exercises, ‘lamaze’ and meditation to ease your anxiety. It also helps to share your fears with your caregiver and doctor. Shut out all negative stories that many women may want to recount about their own labour problems. Learn more about pain relief in labour from your gynaecologist. This would make you stronger to be able to face labour.

Thank you, readers for your queries. I hope I have been able to answer them and clarify your doubts. I would be more than happy to take time off to answer all your questions week after week. You can reach me via editorial@pune365.com


Dr Mini Salunkhe

Dr Mini Salunkhe

Dr Mini Salunkhe is a senior gynaecologist practising in Pune for over a decade. Apart from being a private practitioner, she is a consulting obstetrician and gynaecologist at Inamdar Hospital. Dr Salunkhe addresses reader queries every Friday on Pune365.
Dr Mini Salunkhe