So, this week, Michael Douglas had tongues wagging over his alleged statement that his throat cancer was caused by the Human Papillomavirus (HPV) transmitted during oral sex.

Thanks, Michael Douglas.  No really, I’m not being sarcastic.

The one good thing from this story was that it brought to the forefront the importance of getting checked for the HP virus which is linked to cervical cancer in women, genital warts in males and females, as well as uncommon cancers such as penile, anal, head, throat and neck.

And while every sexually active man and woman should do all that it takes to avoid this common virus that affects more than 20 million people, parents like me with pre-teens have a very daunting decision to make—should or shouldn’t we vaccinate our sons and daughters against HPV.

At first it seems like a no-brainer.  If there are currently 30 types of HPV and no cure insight, it only stands to reason that the number could multiply over the years.  Why not be proactive and get our boys and girls a shot that protects against the development of cervical cancer and genital warts? The drug is approved for boys and girls from 9 to 26 years old, but doctors advise that children be vaccinated before they become sexually active.

But there are medical, moral and mommy questions to consider.

Medical:

The product Gardasil manufactured by the Merk drug company is relatively new and there are possible risks that have not yet come to light. There’s already controversy over the most common childhood vaccinations. Celebrities Holly Robinson-Peete and Jennie McCarthy have both been very vocal about what they believe to be a link between measles vaccinations and their sons’ autism.

In 2010, there were more than 18,000 complaints reported that include mostly fainting and pain from the shot. But there have been reports of blood clotting too. However, according to the CDC, the risk of permanent side effects from a vaccination is about one in a million, or four a year.

Moral:

Is getting your pre-teen a vaccination to fight against sexually transmitted disease giving him or her the green light to have sex? This is a real concern for people who are teaching their children abstinence. But realistically speaking, none of us can be certain that our kids will wait until they’re married to have sex and who’s to say their mate will?  So, by getting them vaccinated, at least we’re looking out for their long-term future…long after we have any say over what they do and with whom.

Mommy:

Getting our children vaccinated for HPV is going to force us to have talk to our kids about sex whether we’re ready or not, especially if we wait until they’re older, which is what some doctors suggest. A friend of mine with a teen daughter was told by her doctor that it would be fine to wait until she’s sexually active to get the shot. No parent is looking forward to that day. Right now I can’t even imagine it, but as the mother of boys, I’ve got a decision to make.  A new study shows that ear, nose and throat doctors are seeing more cases of throat cancer in younger men caused not by drinking and smoking, but by HPV.

So, along with the conversation about refraining from sex comes the talk about oral sex too. And I thought my 10 year old’s upcoming school project on the costal regions of Texas was challenging!

I still haven’t made a firm decision and would love to hear your comments.

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