Here's a reason not to skip your shots: Besides providing a slew of other benefits, a new large-scale Australian study to be published in PLOS ONE suggests that the HPV vaccine cuts down on rates of genital warts.
Starting in 2007—when Australia began making the vaccine free to teens and young women—researchers looked at a database of more than one million women aged 15 to 27 and found that the rate of genital warts fell 61 percent from what it had been four years earlier.
The researchers didn't see a change in genital wart rates among age groups who hadn't received the vaccine, nor did they see a change in other rates of STDs, so it's likely that the vaccine—not a change in sexual behavior—is responsible for the decrease in genital warts.
In addition to genital warts, the HPV vaccine is the only vaccine to protect against cancers of the mouth, anus, and cervix that are caused by HPV. While the vaccine isn't that popular in the U.S. (according to Time, a recent Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report finds that only 33 percent of girls aged 13 to 17 have gotten all three doses of the shot), we hope this study will encourage more young women to talk about it with their doctors.