Numbers Show Vaccine Helps Reduce HPV Cases

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Dr. Jennifer Mushtaler was recently asked to share her professional opinion on the effectiveness of the HPV vaccine on KVUE.  Read the article below or watch the video on KVUE.

AUSTN — The HPV vaccine remains controversial, however, numbers recently released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention showing the vaccine’s effectiveness could help quell some of the skepticism.

Cases of human papillomavirus, or HPV, have decreased 56 percent in young girls since the vaccine was first introduced in 2006 according to the CDC.

“This is very exciting news,” said Jennifer Mushtaler, M.D., an obstetrician and gynecologist with Capital OB/GYN Associates of Texas at St. David’s Women’s Center. “We’re seeing that reduction in risk cancers for our young women, which is very important and the reduction is greater than anticipated.”

CDC officials admit they were surprised by the vaccine’s effectiveness, and so too were University of Texas students KVUE spoke to.

“I remember it was just a few years ago that people started talking about it,” said Wynne Davis, a UT student. “There was really the push and all the ads on television for it, but I didn’t expect it to drop that quickly.”

“It is a really significant decrease,” said Angela Lin, a UT student. “With all the current medical breakthroughs and progress in science and technology and everything, I guess it really doesn’t surprise me.”

The only disappointing news according to the CDC is that only 50 to 60 percent of young women are getting the vaccine. The agency was hoping that number would be closer to 80 percent. Dr. Mushtaler says there’s still a bit of a disconnect over the value of the vaccine.

“Because we’re vaccinating for diseases that are transmitted sexually the message can get confused about the intent of the vaccine,” she said. “The intent of the vaccine is to help protect young people from (certain) types of cancers no matter when they choose to become sexually active.”

Mushtaler says the vaccine is now being recommended for girls and boys — girls ages 11 to 26 and boys ages 11 to 21. Dr. Mushtaler says early research has shown there’s a higher rate of immunity when children are vaccinated at a younger age.

To schedule an appointment with any Capital Ob/Gyn physicians, call 512.836.2536 or visit  We look forward to seeing you soon at Capital Ob/Gyn!

Girl Scouts Beyond Bars

Dr. Catherine Browne was recently invited to join the Austin Girl Scouts Beyond gsBars semimonthly gathering as a guest speaker. She enjoyed the opportunity to represent Capital Ob/Gyn in the community and speak with the girls about their health related questions.

Girl Scouts Beyond Bars (GSBB) is a program that equips girls ages 5 to 17 whose mothers are incarcerated with the tools they’ll need to succeed, while also strengthening the mother/daughter bond through regular visits. The Austin based GSBB meets semimonthly as a group and regularly engages local leaders to speak on relevant topics.

In February, Dr. Browne shared with the fifth through twelfth grade girls of GSBB on the topic of health. It is very important that these girls have a safe environment where they feel comfortable asking questions and where they can receive an educated response to their questions. It was evident that the GSBB has created an environment that meets this need, and that they are having a significant impact on the growth and leadership development of these girls.

Dr. Browne noted that the girls were very curious and open with their questions. Their questions ranged from “What is the Gardasil shot and what is HPV?” to discussions about the dangers of smoking and alcohol. They were also very interested in learning more about becoming a medical professional, the level of education needed and what a typical work day looks like.  Our hope is that each girl left that gathering better equipped to make educated choices when it comes to their health.

The Capital Ob/Gyn team is thankful to have the opportunity to connect with such valuable causes like GSBB and to serve our community. To learn more about our practice visit or call us at 512-836-2536 if you have any questions or to schedule your next appointment.

Annuals and New PAP Smear Guidelines

All of us have been touched in some capacity by cancer. Regarding cervical cancer, public education programs and PAP smear screenings have us on the victorious side of prevention. It is understandable that given years of education to women on the importance of annual cervical cancer screenings, there is confusion and concern over the newer guidelines.

First, let me say that the changes in cervical cancer screening recommendations are very well founded in significant advances in our technological capability. These recommendations are more than just a financial analysis of societal cost/benefit ratios (dig at conflicting breast cancer screening guidelines). Our newer technologies allow us to perform sensitive testing for Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) strains that are causative in the development of cervical cancer. If a woman has normal appearing cells, and she is free of high-risk strains of HPV, her risk of developing a cervical cancer is almost zero over the next few years. Second, let me emphasize that the PAP smear is only one aspect of care given at an annual exam and women should continue to have a yearly preventive check-up with their gynecologist. With that in mind, the newer PAP smear guidelines are as follows. 

Women age 21 and under are not recommended to have PAP smears. These women should have annual health check-ups to include screening for STD’s as indicated, initiation of the HPV vaccine, birth control counseling as indicated and complete health maintenance. If a woman under the age of 21 has not become sexually active, she does not need to have a pelvic exam, and time will be spent on other important aspects of a young woman’s health care.

Women age 21-29 should have an annual exam, well, every year! PAP smears should be obtained as part of that exam every 1-2 years. HPV testing is recommended for those women whose cellular analysis reveals atypical cells on the PAP. Annual health check-ups include blood pressure and weight screening, breast and pelvic exam, STD screening, contraceptive care and family planning.

Women age 30-65 should have an annual exam, you guessed it, every year! During these years many important health screenings will be conducted in addition to a pelvic exam. Women will have blood pressure, cholesterol, thyroid and diabetes screenings. Women will have regular breast exams and referrals for annual mammograms starting at age 40. Family planning, STD testing and contraceptive care is also included.  The PAP smear with HPV testing will be conducted every 3-5 years depending on the woman’s individual risk profile.

Women age 65 and older will follow current Medicare guidelines. In some women, PAP smears may be discontinued entirely, while others will have a PAP smear every 2 years. Women with HIV and/or a prior history of cervical cancer may be considered high risk and undergo annual PAP smear testing.

To summarize, all women should have an annual gynecological exam…every year! Many important aspects of woman’s health will be reviewed during that exam. Not sure what you should do? Starting last fall, women’s annual preventive exams are covered at 100% by commercial insurers, so give us a call at 512-836-2536 to schedule your exam. Our practice will have extra open exam slots for those patients needing to schedule before the end of the year. We are also offering a program for women who are without insurance to be able to get a preventive exam, PAP smear and gonorrhea/chlamydia testing.

Visit our website at or call us at 512-836-2536 if you have any questions or to schedule your annual exam. You can also learn more from ACOG Practice Bulletin 131 “Screening for Cervical Cancer”.

National Cervical Cancer Awareness Month

Welcome January 2011 and National Cervical Cancer Awareness Month!
It is that time of year for new beginnings and resolutions. Many of my patients have embraced this as an opportunity for self-improvement. If you are still searching for that ideal goal, I have the perfect resolution for you. January is National Cervical Cancer Awareness Month. Make a resolution to come in for your preventive health exam or encourage a family member who has neglected her own health to do so. The CDC reported as recently as 2002 that 13,000 new cases of cervical cancer will be diagnosed annually in the U.S. This is disheartening. Cervical cancer is a 100% preventable disease!

women's healthTwo of the biggest risk factors for the development of cervical cancer are lack of regular screening and human papilloma virus (HPV) infection. We can now detect infection by high risk HPV even when the PAP smear cytology is normal. Further, surveillance and early treatment is proven to prevent progression to cancer. Patients need not fear a PAP smear or hearing that their result is abnormal. It is normal to be shy about such a personal exam, but PAP smears need not be painful at all. Indicated surveillance is done in the office using a special microscope called a colposcope to identify areas of abnormality. If treatment is required, it can be done with a simple outpatient procedure.

The worst thing a woman can do is to neglect or ignore this basic health need. For additional information check out

Schedule an appointment with OB JEN at Capital Ob/Gyn Associates of Texas by calling 512-83-OB-JEN.  Visit us online at