It’s Cervical Health Awareness Month
Did you know that this month is Cervical Health Awareness Month? What do you know about your cervical health and how to protect it? Read more about what you can do now.
Your cervix is the lowest part of your uterus (the place where babies grow). Your cervix connects the uterine cavity and part of your vagina and is where the sperm travels to fertilize your eggs. Some health issues that can affect your cervix are inflammation, growths and cervical cancer.
- Wrap it up. Using condoms protects your cervix and body from STDs, including HPV (which can cause cervical cancer) and HIV. Untreated STDs such as chlamydia and gonorrhea can increase the inflammation in your cervix, cause infertility and raise your risk of contracting HIV. Women living with HIV/AIDS have an increased chance of developing cervical cancer compared to HIV-negative women.
- Get a Pap smear. One major way to know if something is going on with your cervix is to get a Pap smear. While some cervical issues may present symptoms, cervical cancer usually does not. FYI: Thanks to Obamacare, you can get a woman’s well visit co-pay-free as part of preventive health care.
- Demand to get tested for STDs during your gyno visit. Don’t think that because you have a gyno appointment for a Pap that you are being tested for STDs. You have to speak up and be clear that you are concerned about STDs. Also if available, ask for an HPV test, too. If you test positive for HPV, do not freak out. Most sexually active Americans have had HPV in their lifetime. Plus HPV clears itself up over time. However it does take longer to clear up in black women.
- Quit smoking. While most cervical cancers are not caused by HPV, smoking can play a big part in developing the disease. Yet, if you do have HPV and you smoke, you double your risk of developing cervical cancer. Smoking can speed up growth of cancerous cells in the body.
- If you can, get the HPV vaccine. No doubt, this vaccine can be expensive (up to $300 for a two shots) and time consuming, but getting vaccinated for HPV can help strengthen your cervical health and protect you against the strains that can cause cervical. It’s recommended that girls and boys as young as 9 to 26 get the shot.
- Eat more fruits and veggies. You are what you eat, so eating a lot of junk and being overweight can impact your chances of developing cervical cancer and other cancers. Fruits and veggies are rich in antioxidants and minerals, which can help your body fight HPV infection and slow down the process of healthy cells turning into cancerous ones. Are you eating your five to seven servings a day?