January is Cervical Health Awareness Month, so we’re hitting you with 5 hard truths about your cervix and making sure it’s getting the TLC it deserves.
1. Cervical Cancer Can Be Fatal, But It’s Preventable
In the United States alone, around 12,000 people are diagnosed with cervical cancer every year, and for 1/3, it will be fatal.
2. HPV is Nearly Always the Culprit
Virtually all cervical cancer is caused by HPV (human papillomavirus) – a group of some 40 related viruses – with nearly 70% attributed to HPV 16 and 18.
3. Almost Everyone Will Have HPV In Their Lifetime
It’s estimated that three quarters of the reproductive-aged population will have a strain of HPV at some point during their life – and largely,they won’t see any effects. Most strains of HPV are innocuous, and will go away on their own as your body passes the infection. It’s only persistent infection with high-risk strains 16 and 18 that can lead to cervical cancer.
4. Vaccinations Are The Only Way To Protect Your Sex Life
Barrier protections – think male and female condoms, as well as dental dams and gloves – may not totally protect you during sexual activity, as HPV is spread through skin to skin contact. Vaccinations such as Gardasil protect against HPV-6, 11, 16, and 18, which are the strains most likely to cause genital warts and cervical cancer, respectively. Vaccination, as well as safer sex practices and STI testing every 6 months (unless you are monogamous) are the best ways to protect your cervical health.
5. Pap Smears Are Still Important
The frequency with which you are recommended to get a Pap smear if you’re under 30 is about every 3 years. However, if you do test positive for high-risk HPV, your doctor will recommend more frequent testing to see if abnormal cervical cells are growing. Even if you do have an abnormal Pap smear, you can be totally fine – relax! – your doctor will recommend something called a colposcopy to make absolutely sure, and will let you know exactly how often you need to be checking up.
Please note that advice offered by Intimina may not be relevant to your individual case. For specific concerns regarding your health, always consult your physician or other licensed medical practitioners.