Moms, take good care of your cervix
January has been designated by the US Congress as the National Cervical Health Awareness Month. The question is, are you taking good care of your cervix?
Here are two good reasons why you should:
- 10,000 American women are diagnosed with cervical cancer every year and about 3,700 of these cases are fatal.
- Even if not fatal, cervical cancer can cost you your uterus, and therefore your natural reproductive potential.
Cervical cancer, however, is one of the most preventable and treatable forms of cancer. The key is regular screening and early detection. And screening is as easy and regularly visiting your gynecologist and having a Pap test.
Now, there are many misconceptions about the Pap test and cervical cancer that need to be clarified.
- First, it is not true that a Pap test is only required for sexually active women. Anybody can get cervical cancer although it is very rare in women under the age of 25. According to the National Institutes for Health, routine screening should start not later than the age of 21.
- Second, vaccination against the human papillomavirus (HPV) does not completely protect you cervical cancer. It does significantly reduce the risk of having genital warts that may lead to cancer. However the vaccine is not a substitute for the Pap test.
- Third, many women find a Pap test rather invasive. Talk with your doctor about other alternatives, such as vaginal swabs, for example.
In honor of the National Cervical Health Awareness Month, many health departments in the US are offering free! cervical cancer screenings. The National Cervical Cancer Coalition gives a list of county health departments which offer this service. Check it out!