Cancer is one of the leading causes of death around the world. Not only is it deadly, but cancer is an incredibly devastating affliction emotionally for sufferers and their families. Fortunately, there has been a lot of progress made in cancer treatment and prevention over the last few decades. One of the most exciting areas of cancer research is in the prevention of cervical cancer. January is Cervical Cancer Awareness Month. In honor of that, here is a look at how you can help prevent cervical cancer by taking steps to improve your gynecological health.
Stopping Human Papilloma Virus
The leading cause of cervical cancer is being infected with the human papilloma virus (HPV). HPV is a virus that causes warts in the body. When this virus is present in the genital area, it causes genital warts. These warts are not only unsightly, but the virus can lead to cancer. Therefore, the most important step in stopping cervical cancer is preventing HPV.
There are a number of ways that HPV can be transmitted. Of course, unprotected intercourse is one way. However, HPV can also be transmitted simply by touching the genitals without penetration. It may even be transmitted from contact between hands and genitals. Sex toys can also harbor the virus. It is crucial to avoid any touching between an infected surface and the genitals.
Using condoms can reduce the risk of transmitting HPV by around 70 percent, but there is still a risk of infection. Women who want to reduce their risk of catching HPV that leads to cervical cancer should try to limit the number of their sexual partners and use safe sex methods every time they have intercourse.
Fortunately, cervix cancer can be caught before it develops in many cases. This is accomplished when women are examined by their gynecologists every year. Part of the exam is a pap smear, and this test will catch precancerous growths in the cervix that can be removed before they develop into tumors. Cervix cancer is one of the most preventable forms of cancer as long as women make sure to go in for their yearly gynecological exams.
The most exciting news in stopping cervical cancer is that there have been two vaccines developed to prevent HPV. Both vaccines protect women from the two types of HPV that are most likely to cause cervical cancer. The vaccines require a series of three injections over a period of six months. These vaccines will not cure HPV, but they will stop an infection from occurring. Therefore, it is a good idea for parents of young girls to get their daughters vaccinated before they become sexually active.
With efforts like the creation of the HPV vaccines, the rates of cervical cancer will soon be on the downswing. Women who want to reduce their risk of cervical cancer should take every step possible to reduce their exposure to HPV to ensure gynecological health. Taking these steps is well worth the effort when they prevent cancer.