Q: Does the HPV vaccine counteract with birth control medication?
A: If you’re asking if the HPV vaccine makes your birth control less effective at preventing pregnancy, the answer is no.
If you’re asking if there are any special risks of receiving the HPV vaccine while taking birth control, the answer is: highly unlikely, although this is a matter of some debate in the medical community at the moment.
More than 26 million doses of the HPV vaccine have been given in the United States so far. In a recent report, the most common side effects were: pain at the injection site, headache, fever and fainting (which is why your doctor has you wait in the office for 15-20 minutes after a shot). These are common side effects with any vaccination.
There have been a lot of frightening reports in the news media that the vaccine can cause blood clots, but there is currently no evidence that the vaccine in combination birth control is unsafe.
According to a recent review in the Journal of the American Medical Association, out of 23 million doses given so far, there were 56 reports of blood clots, 31 of which had sufficient information for clinical review. Of the 31 people who had a blood clot, 90% had a condition that put them at increased risk for blood clots before they ever received the vaccine: birth control use, family history of blood clots, smoking, being overweight or inactive. Hormonal birth control itself is a well known risk factor for blood clot formation, so there is really no way to know whether receiving the vaccine had anything to do with those people developing blood clots. What we do know is that the HPV vaccine provides protection against the viruses that cause 70% of cervical cancers worldwide.
The CDC and FDA are continuing to monitor the safety data as more people receive the vaccine. If you have questions or concerns you can always schedule an appointment with one of the providers at Student Health Women’s Services.
Angela Walker, Med IV (Ohio State College of Medicine)
Ryo Choi-Pearson, MD (Ohio State Student Health Services)
Postlicensure safety surveillance for quadrivalent human papillomavirus recombinant vaccine. JAMA. 2009 Aug 19;302(7):795-6.,