January is Cervical Health Awareness Month and a great opportunity to empower women to be proactive in their reproductive health, protect themselves from HPV (human papillomavirus) and cervical cancer, and receive free, confidential medical care if needed.
What is cervical cancer?
Cervical cancer is the abnormal growth of cells in the cervix, which is the lower part of the uterus that connects to the vagina. While the sole cause of cervical cancer is not determined, HPV plays a role. HPV is the most common STD and is a main cause of cervical cancer.
Every year, more than 13,000 women are diagnosed with cervical cancer, and about 4,000 will die from it. Cervical cancer is preventable, and if found early, it is often curable.
How do I prevent cervical cancer?
Cervical cancer often develops slowly and sometimes shows few or no symptoms until advanced stages. That is why cervical cancer screenings, including HPV tests and Pap tests, are important. These tests can detect cervical cancer and precancerous cells that may one day develop into cervical cancer before cancer develops. This allows a woman to be proactive and begin treatment or other prevention.
Schedule a Pap smear and well woman exam at Vida.
Vida provides free, confidential well-woman care and cervical cancer tests, including Pap tests/Pap smears.
A Pap test/Pap smear identifies changes in cells on the cervix (lower end of the uterus) that are caused from HPV. Most infections resolve on their own without treatment. However, if a high-risk infection persists, it can cause cancer of the cervix or vagina in women. In most cases, follow-up care for an abnormal test result may prevent cervical cancer from developing.
A Pap test is recommended for all women beginning at the age of 21 through age 65. With a normal test result, this test only needs to be done every three years.
Get tested for sexually transmitted diseases (STDs).
If you are having sex, you may be at risk for getting a sexually transmitted disease (STD). STDs are infections that can be contracted through oral, anal, and vaginal sex. HPV is the most common STD; it is a virus that can cause skin warts, genital warts, and some forms of cancer, including cervical cancer. People can get infected by having sex or genital-to-genital contact. Request a free, confidential appointment for STD testing and treatment at Vida here.
Most people do not know they are infected and most infections resolve on their own without treatment. However, if an infection with a high-risk type persists, it can cause cancer of the cervix or vagina in women, penile cancer in men, and cancer of the rectum, mouth, and throat in both men and women.
At Vida, when a free pap test is done to detect cervical cancer, a free HPV test can be done at the same time if needed. There is no test for genital HPV in men. There is also no test for HPV in the mouth or throat.
Receive follow-up medical care if needed.
Vida Medical Clinic can provide a medical referral for any recommended follow-up care and possible treatment if needed.
This Cervical Health Awareness Month, get equipped and empowered about cervical health. Vida’s licensed medical team is here to provide free, confidential screenings and to answer your questions.