January is Cervical Cancer Awareness Month!
All people with a cervix are at risk for cervical cancer. It occurs most often in people over 30. Human papillomavirus (HPV) is the main cause of cervical cancer. HPV is a common virus that is passed from one person to another during intercourse. At least half of sexually active people will have HPV at some point in their lives, but few people will get cervical cancer.
Q What are the risk factors?+
- HPV – for most people, HPV will go away on its own; however, if it does not, there is a chance that over time it may cause cervical cancer
- Having HIV or another condition that makes it hard for your body to fight off health problems
- Using birth control pills for a long time (five or more years)
- Having given birth to three or more children
- Having several sexual partners
Q What can you do to reduce your risk of cervical cancer?+
You can prevent cervical cancer by getting screened regularly, starting at age 21, and by getting the HPV vaccine.
The HPV vaccine protects against the types of HPV that most often cause cervical, vaginal and vulvar cancers. HPV can also cause cancers of the penis, as well anal, head and neck cancers.
The HPV vaccine is recommended for children who are 11 to 12 years old, but can be given as early as age 9 and until age 26.
Q What are the screening tests?+
Two tests help prevent cervical cancer or find it early:
- The Pap test (or Pap smear) looks for precancers, which are cell changes on the cervix that might become cervical cancer if they are not treated appropriately.
- The human papillomavirus (HPV) test looks for the virus that can cause these cell changes.
To schedule an appointment for a Pap or HPV test, please call (619) 326-9102.
Q How to prepare for your Pap or HPV test.+
You should not schedule your test for a time when you are having your period. If you are going to have a test in the next two days:
- You should not douche
- You should not use a tampon
- You should not have sex
- You should not use a birth control foam, cream or jelly
- You should not use a medicine or cream
Q How often should I get screened?+
You should get your first Pap test at age 21. If your test result is normal, you can wait three years for your next test.
If you’re 30 years old or older, you have three options:
- You can continue getting a Pap test only. If your test result is normal, you can wait three years for your next test.
- You can get an HPV test only. If your test result is normal, you can wait five years for your next test.
You can get both an HPV and Pap test together. If your test results are normal, you can wait five years for your next tests.
For more information, or to schedule an appointment, please call (619) 326-9102 or fill out the form below.