Top 5 ways to prevent Cervical Cancer can help you save a life if not your own. Happy New Year everyone!! Its the start of another year and, if you did not know, January is Cervical Cancer Awareness Month. That means all women, including the women you love if you are not a woman, needs to read this post and get in contact with your physician. Last year it was estimated that 12,820 women would be diagnosed with Cervical Cancer and 4,210 would die from this disease. All of my life I have heard that an ounce of prevention goes a long way, and this was before I even became a nurse. But as a nurse I see how this statement is such a true one that needs to be taken very seriously.
In order to prevent any illness we have to take part in our healthcare and do what is necessary. The 5 ways to prevent Cervical Cancer are getting timely checkups, limiting sex partners, using protection with partners, not smoking, and if you are of age or have children of age, get the vaccine. These are some things we can do for ourselves daily, without a prescription from a physician.
The first prevention for Cervical Cancer is getting pap smears completed timely. Pap test are completed every 3 years if you’re between the ages of 21-29 (or younger if sexually active), every 5 years along with the HPV test if 30-64. Women 65 or older speak with your physician to see if these check ups are still necessary. I can also state with certainty that if any pap smear comes back abnormal your time frame for testing will be different. Being a woman I understand how this test is dreaded, but its better to have this completed than to get a bad diagnosis.
Limiting Sex Partners/Protection
Another way to decrease the chances of getting cervical cancer is by limiting your sexual partners. The HPV virus has high-risks strains that can cause Cervical Cancer, and having contact with several sexual partners increases the chance of contracting it. People contracts HPV by oral, anal and vaginal intercourse and most people are not aware they have it. Studies also show that your chances of HPV causing Cervical Cancer increases if you have other STDs, such as Chlamydia. There is no judgement from me if anyone chooses to have multiple partners, but use protection. Using condoms during sex can help decrease chances of contracting the STD that can lead to Cervical Cancer.
Smoking can Cause Cancer
According to the American Cancer Society, women who smoke are twice as likely to develop this cancer than those that do not smoke. Smoking decreases your body’s immune system, weakening its chances of fighting off any HPV infection. Tobacco has chemicals that are cancer causing in our bodies, so even people who do not smoke are at risk from the second-hand smoke. Just becoming aware of these things allows us to make better choices and decisions about our healthcare.
Vaccination against Cancer
Last but not least, there is a vaccine against the HPV virus. The vaccination does not fight against the infection, but used to prevent infection. A Physician starts the series around ages 11-12 for young female and men. It is recommended for women between the ages of 13-26 and men from the ages of 13-21. I understand some people don’t believe in vaccines, but I am listing this information for those people that do. A person gets the HPV vaccination before being exposed to the virus. HPV can be contracted just by skin to skin contact, and not just engaging in a sexual act. Knowing this information allows us to become more educated on this issue by creating a want to learn more. Check with your child’s pediatrician or your own physician to learn more about the HPV vaccine.
There are other things that can cause Cervical Cancer. But the 5 things I have noted above are at the top of the list. We are half way through the first month of a New Year, and I want everyone to have a healthier year than last year. Becoming more involved in your healthcare is the best thing that a person can do for themselves. Ask your physician questions about your medications or when preventive check ups are due for you. Remember, prevention is easier to get than a cure. What checkups have you scheduled so far this year?