January is Cervical Health Awareness Month, an observance created to spread critical information about the prevention, screening, and early detection of cervical cancer and HPV (human papillomavirus). If you're here on our blog, chances are high that you have a cervix or care about someone who does. Please, take the time to read through the following MIF (most important facts) and more importantly, take the time this month to schedule an appointment (or confirm an already scheduled appointment) with your care provider for your annual screening.
Most Important Facts About Cervical Health
1. Cervical cancer and HPV are almost always preventable through regular screening and vaccination. Cervical cancer is completely preventable if precancerous cells are detected and treated early enough. There is no cure for the HPV virus (the body clears most infections naturally), but there are treatments for the diseases caused by HPV.
2. HPV -- human papillomavirus -- is a group of viruses that infect the skin and there are many kinds. Genital HPV may cause genital warts and other times it can cause abnormal cervical cells, which can lead to cervical cancer.
3. Testing and screening for HPV and cervical cancer can be screened for by an annual Pap test and/or an HPV test. A Pap/HPV co-test is recommended for people over the age of 30. Talk to your care provider (OB/Gyn or family doctor) to determine which test is best for you and how often it is needed.
4. HPV during pregnancy rarely causes health issues for baby, and does not prevent someone from giving birth vaginally.
5. HPV is transmitted through skin-to-skin contact. Wearing a condom will greatly reduce transmission of HPV but does not prevent it entirely.