HPV vaccine

Although this isn’t strictly birth-related, it is a woman’s issue, and I think it is an important one. Here is an article I just read which raised some serious concerns about Gardasil. One of my chief concerns about this or any vaccine is the length of immunity the shot gives. Gardasil’s estimated protection is for five years. But it’s being given to 12-year-old girls. And they aren’t required to test to see if this is cancer-causing, or if it has any bearing on future fertility. As someone who was exposed to DES in utero, that scares me. This vaccine is just so new, how can they know?


3 Responses

  1. Hi!

    I’m reading more of your posts, and they’re very interesting,
    and very informative. I was reading your post about the new
    vaccine Gardasil, and I agree with keeping down the level of
    vaccines if not particularly needed at infancy, or any other
    age that’s way to early. (The Hepititis vaccines comes to mind)

    Anyway, are you really a DES “survivor” …? If I read that
    correctly, I find it amazing that your were able to bare two
    healthy children. I thought that “medication” had irreparible
    (sp?) damages to the reproductive organs in any baby exposed to
    it, boys or girls. Anyway, thanks for all of the information.
    It’s definitely a great tool in decision making for us parents.


  2. Hi, Brooke. Thanks for reading! 🙂

    You can read my posts categorized under “DES” for more info — I blogged several times very recently as I was coming to the conclusion that I must have been exposed to DES. My main reason for that belief is that my cervix is misshapen — it’s a “cockscomb cervix” — and I have been unable to find *anyone* or *any* resource that says that cockscomb cervix is caused by any other thing except DES exposure. It’s possible that I am not a “DES daughter” — the only thing my mother took was prenatal vitamins, which *ought* to have been pulled from the market if they had DES in them, at the time I was a fetus (1976), but I have no other answer for my deformed cervix otherwise. It’s possible that my mother was herself a DES daughter, and somehow passed it on to me (my oldest sister had a misshapen uterus which caused 3 miscarriages), but from the state of the research, that seems unlikely.

    Many women who were exposed to DES (called “DES daughters”) will have reproductive tract disorders or abnormalities that may affect or impair fertility, but will not necessarily be infertile or have unhealthy children. In some of my research, I came across something that said that if a woman finds out she’s a DES daughter, even if she’s had previous healthy, uneventful pregnancies, she still is automatically considered “high risk” and needs to be seen by an OB that specializes in high-risk pregnancies. Apparently, there is always a risk that the cervix will decide for “this pregnancy” to become incompetent, or dilate too soon, or otherwise cause problems. Sigh…. (This opens up a dilemma for me — if I claim DES daughter status so that I can get proper medical testing to ensure I don’t die from cancer caused by DES I may have received 32 years ago, then I must be high-risk for any future pregnancy. I don’t want to be considered a high-risk pregnancy — I’ve had two home births and don’t want to have a hospital birth. But if I’m “high-risk,” midwives shouldn’t take me. Again, sigh….)

    According to the website of a lawyer who specializes in DES lawsuits, DES may cause a host of reproductive tract problems (bicornate uterus, septated uterus, endometriosis, etc.); however, these problems or anomalies may be caused by something else — and indeed, many times women have these problems without known DES exposure — “just one of those things” (but I have been unable to find that statement about cockscomb cervix). These malformations may cause infertility or at least difficulty in attaining or maintaining pregnancy; but many times if a woman is able to become pregnant, she has healthy babies. From what research has been done on DES sons, (if I remember correctly), they are not any more likely to be infertile than men not exposed to DES in utero; however, they have a higher incidence of reproductive tract anomalies too.

    Yes, medication does have irreparable damages, but I think the type and severity of abnormality depends on how much DES exposure the man or woman received as a fetus, and at what stage of fetal development. There are drugs on the market today that ought not to be taken in the first trimester, but can be taken in the second; and others that can be taken in the first, but not the second — this is because of what effect the medication has on the developing systems of the fetus.

  3. Hi Kathy,

    It’s possible to have a misshapen cervix without having exposure to DES. I have had 3 Dr’s tell me that if they didn’t know how old I was they would think I had been exposed because my cervix looks just like one of a “DES daughter.” The problem with that is I was born in the 80’s long after DES and neither my mom or grandmother appear to have taken or been exposed to DES. All of the doctors have said that it is likely just a natural variation (AKA birth defect) that just happens to be similar to those exposed to DES.

    Thanks for posting this. When my midwife first told me I had a cockscomb cervix, she asked if my mom had taken DES, and when I said she had not, she said it was just a “variation of normal.” It may be. The problem is, it’s impossible to prove a negative, so I cannot tell for sure that I was *not* exposed. We’re in the same boat — apparent DES exposure without any actual documented DES exposure. I’d feel better if there were an explanation for it other than that. Knowing my cervix looks like I was exposed to DES makes me feel as if I were exposed to it — even without proof. “If it walks like a duck, sounds like a duck….” At least I feel better knowing I’m not alone in this! 🙂

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