Guardians of Wellness — Essential Tips to Support Your Cervical Health
As we enter the month of Cervical Health Awareness Month, it's time to prioritise our health and shed emphasis on this often-overlooked area of women's health. Your cervical health is an important thread in the complicated tapestry of your general well-being, and knowing how to care for it is critical. In this article, we delve into the vital tips that will empower and fortify your cervical health. Let us band together to raise awareness and foster a culture of proactive well-being, making every month an occasion to prioritise and celebrate our bodies' resilience.
1. Undergo routine Pap smears
Undergoing a Pap smear stands as a pivotal action for maintaining optimal cervical health. This screening test assesses the cervix for potential changes that may signify early stages of cancer. Early detection of these cervical changes allows for timely intervention before they progress into cancer. The frequency of Pap smears varies and is contingent upon your doctor's assessment. If you're sexually active and uncertain about the timing of your last Pap smear, it is advisable to schedule one promptly to ensure proactive cervical health management.
2. Undergo an HPV test
Human papillomavirus (HPV) is a prevalent sexually transmitted infection, often going unnoticed due to a lack of symptoms. This ease of transmission makes it imperative to proactively test for it. Detecting certain strains of HPV is particularly crucial as they can potentially lead to cervical cancer if left undetected. The strains we specifically test for, HPV 16 and 18, account for approximately 70% of cervical cancer cases. Should your test indicate the presence of these strains, a colposcopy, a procedure that magnifies cervical cells to identify abnormal changes, is likely to be recommended.
3. Receive the HPV vaccination
Preventing HPV is achievable, and a highly effective method is through the HPV vaccine. Typically administered before the age of 26, individuals can still receive it up to the age of 45. It's crucial to emphasise that this vaccine is effective for both men and women, reducing the likelihood of transmission. Engage in open communication with your partner to inquire about their HPV vaccination status, fostering a proactive approach to shared health.
4. Request that your partner use condoms
While it remains uncertain whether condoms effectively prevent HPV transmission, especially given that they don't cover all areas of the male and female genitals, it is established that condom use is linked to a reduced risk of cervical cancer. Additionally, it is worth noting that a higher number of sexual partners is correlated with an elevated risk of cervical cancer.
5. Don’t smoke
It's common knowledge that smoking, even on an occasional basis, has detrimental effects on your health. However, it's crucial to recognise that smoking significantly heightens the risk of developing cervical cancer. Research indicates that individuals who smoke and are exposed to HPV strains associated with cervical cancer face a substantially increased likelihood of developing this form of cancer.