January is Cervical Health Awareness Month!

Cervical Health Awareness Month offers us a chance to talk about preventing, treating, and detecting human papillomavirus (HPV) and cervical cancer.

Pap test visual
(Source: Telluride Med Center)

About 79 million Americans currently have HPV, and many people with HPV don’t know they have been infected. HPV is a very common infection that spreads through sexual activity, and it causes almost all cases of cervical cancer. Each year, more than 11,000 women are diagnosed with cervical cancer.

What can I do to prevent HPV and cervical cancer?

Vaccinate early. The good news is that you can prevent HPV by getting vaccinated early. It is recommended that patients are vaccinated at age 11-12, but if you haven’t gotten vaccinated yet there is still time. Patients can be vaccinated through age 26. The HPV shot can prevent HPV and cervical cancer as a result of contracting HPV.

Screen regularly. Another method in preventing your risk of cervical cancer is scheduling a screening with your doctor. It is recommended that you start with a Pap test or schedule a Pap test paired with an HPV screening. Scheduling regular screenings can help diagnose cervical cancer early and HPV tests can find any of the high-risk types of HPV that are commonly found in cervical cancer.

For more information about scheduling an HPV vaccination or a Pap test, visit our Women’s Health Services page.


(Source: National Cervical Cancer Coalition)