January was declared Cervical Health Awareness Month by the U.S. Congress in 2010 in an effort to bring awareness to the importance of cervical health screenings and cervical cancer.
Cervical cancer is one of the most deadly types of cancer among women and is fatal for an average of 4,000 women per year. However, the number of deaths has gone down in the past 20 years thanks to increased awareness about regular screenings and early detection.
You should never underestimate the importance of regular cervical health screenings as there are typically no symptoms or signs of cervical cancer in its early stages. If you put off your yearly screening, you may miss it until it’s much further along.
The good thing about cervical cancer is that it’s treatable if found early. However, it’s very difficult to successfully treat if it’s discovered in the later stages.
What other types of illnesses and diseases affect my cervical health?
In addition to cervical cancer, you can also have other health problems relating to your cervix. Human Papillomavirus (HPV) is one of the most common illnesses, which can lead to cervical cancer if left untreated.
HPV is the most common sexually transmitted disease in both men and women. It’s a viral infection that can cause genital warts but sometimes doesn’t show any symptoms at all. Because of this, it often goes undetected.
What type of cervical health screenings are available?
There are a couple of different screening options to check for cervical health issues.
Typically, when you go to your yearly well-woman checkup, your gynecologist will do a Pap smear. A Pap smear checks for cancer by collecting cervical cells with a swab and looks for cell changes in your cervical area. It’s a quick and fairly painless test that can literally save your life.
There is also an HPV test that checks for the virus in your cervical area. It doesn’t, however, check for cervical cancer. This fact doesn’t mean it’s less important, though, because it will tell you if you have 1 of the 2 types of HPV that typically leads to cervical cancer.
Talk to your doctor if you have cervical health questions
The best way to avoid problems with your cervical health is to keep up with your yearly well-woman exams and Pap smears. Early detection is crucial to successful treatment and recovery, so you make sure you keep your regular cervical health screenings a high priority.