The month of January is dedicated to promoting awareness about women’s cervical health, which is an extremely important issue for all women to understand. In honor of Cervical Health Awareness Month, today we’re participating by sharing information to raise awareness on prevention, including: how to prevent cervical cancer, HPV vaccination (human papillomavirus), as well as pap and HPV tests.
Thanks to the work of the National Cervical Cancer Coalition, Congress designated January as Cervical Health Awareness Month. It’s a huge step toward preventing the deaths of almost 13,000 women in the United States who are diagnosed with cervical cancer each year.
Cervical cancer 101
The goods news is even if the number of cases of cervical cancer remains steady, the cervical cancer death rate has dropped thanks to early detection with screening tests like Pap tests. But sadly, out of the 13,240 women who are diagnosed with invasive cervical cancer, 4,170 women will die from it. Other facts on cervical cancer include:
- Cervical cancer is most frequently diagnosed in women between the ages of 35 and 44.
- It rarely develops in women younger than 20.
- Many older women do not realize they’re still at risk of developing cervical cancer.
- More than 15% of cases of cervical cancer are found in women over 65.
That’s why it’s important to support Cervical Health Awareness Month for yourself and the women in your life – both young and old.
Understanding HPV Types
As a mother with teenage sons, I began hearing about HPV 10 years ago when the vaccination was introduced in the UK. My pediatrician talked to me about it because they were recommending the vaccination for my boys when they got older. I was slightly embarrassed, but back then, I had never heard of it.
HPV is actually a sexually transmitted disease (STD). What’s interesting about it is studies indicate anyone who is sexually active has probably had it during the course of their lives. In fact, “HPV is so common that nearly all men and women get it at some point in their lives.” This includes young adults who are sexually active. Studies indicate 80% of adults and young adults will get HPV in their lives.
What makes HPV confusing
The disease is transmitted like other STDs through intimate skin-to-skin contact, which means you can “get HPV by having vaginal, anal, or oral sex with someone who has the virus. It is most commonly spread during vaginal or anal sex.”
The confusing thing about HPV is you can be infected and not know it, as some people do not present symptoms. Others notice symptoms years after they’ve been infected. What’s even more interesting about HPV is it can go away by itself without treatment. In instances were HPV does not resolve, it can lead to serious health care issues such as cervical cancer.
Prevention can save lives
HPV is a group of 150 related viruses. These various types of HPV can cause different things if they do not go away on their own like genital warts or cancer including cancer of: