January is Cervical Health Awareness month, so what better time to talk about cervical health! I know I was never taught the importance of yearly well-woman checks or PAP tests. I only found out these were things women needed to do when I was in nursing school. To me, that is crazy! But all women deserve to know this information. So today, I will educate you on four essential things to maintain a healthy cervix.
Getting regular PAP testing.
PAP smears test for things like cervical cancer and are done on women starting at the age of 21. This test can detect cervical changes, such as abnormal or precancerous cells. Cervical cancer usually takes a year to develop, so having these regular PAP tests done allows you to catch something before it becomes a real issue!
If you find yourself getting an abnormal PAP test, it is important to get follow-up care. This could be getting a repeat test in a year or getting treatment from your provider. It is essential that you follow the recommendations of your provider. If you question the provider’s advice, ask questions or get a second opinion. But it’s vital to get the treatment or follow-up testing you need!
Reduce your risk
This is such a vital part of maintaining a healthy cervix. HPV is a sexually transmitted infection that can cause cervical cancer. It is the most common STI in the United States, but you can avoid or reduce your risk of contracting HPV. Abstinence is the best way to prevent not only HPV but every STI. Being in a mutually monogamous relationship with an uninfected partner is the second-best way to avoid contracting an STI, including HIV. Limiting partners, knowing your partner’s STI, and regular testing are also great ways to reduce your risk!
HPV is one of the sexually transmitted infections that does have a vaccination to help prevent contracting it. The HPV vaccine can be given starting at age nine and is divided into two doses, 6-12 months apart. If given after age 15, three doses are administered over a 6-month period.
If you have questions or want more information on cervical health, call us at 701-483-9353.