Can you still get the HPV vaccine if you are sexually active? Let’s find out

Updated on: 31 March 2022, 21:00 pm IST

The HPV vaccine can protect you, but what's the right time to get it? Or can you get it after being sexually active?

Aayushi Gupta
  • 141 Likes
HPV vaccine
Know more about the HPV vaccine. Image courtesy: Shutterstock
Listen to this article

Human papillomavirus (HPV) is a sexually transmitted virus. However, there are many other reasons which can contribute to virus infection. But to immunize yourself from this virus, it’s advisable that the HPV vaccine must be taken by women at a young age, as early as after nine years of age. That’s because it’s best when given before the women become sexually active.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, this vaccine is available to prevent the human papillomavirus types that cause most cervical cancers as well as some cancers of the anus, vulva (area around the opening of the vagina), vagina, and oropharynx (back of throat including base of tongue and tonsils). The vaccine also prevents HPV types that cause most genital warts.

The HPV vaccine is considered safe and effective when it comes to protecting yourself from several types of HPV. But there’s a possibility that you have been exposed to the virus (HPV) through intercourse before you had the vaccine. And that’s why there’s confusion about whether one should get the HPV vaccine after being sexually active or not.

HPV vaccine
A ‘one shot solution’ to prevent HPV infection. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

This has been addressed by Dr Niveditha Manokaran, also known as dr_nive_untaboos on Instagram, a dermatologist and venereologist from India and who is also working as a clinician in sexual and reproduction medicine and HIV medicine in Sydney.

Can people who are already sexually active get the HPV vaccine?

The answer is a big YES, according to Dr Manokaran. She says, “People who are already sexually active can have the HPV vaccine.”

Here’s what her Instagram post reads:

“The reasoning behind the recommendation to get the vaccine before being sexually active is because it is such a common STI. So, if you have started your sexual life, the chance that you’re probably exposed to it is more likely and you don’t benefit from the vaccine 100 percent because you have already probably going to be exposed to the virus.”

Check out her Instagram post here:


She adds that if you are a sexually active individual, it is hard to tell whether you have been exposed to all the strains in that particular vaccine because there are about 9 strains in the Gardasil Nine vaccine.

Also, read: The only guide you need to know about HPV vaccination

So, whether we need to have a HPV vaccine or not is a personal choice and it’s a discussion you need to have with your clinician or your doctor.

Aayushi Gupta Aayushi Gupta

Candid, outspoken, but prudent--Aayushi is exploring her place in media world.

Period Tracker

Track your menstrual cycle using the
HealthShots Period Tracker.

Track Period