Cervical cancer is known to be spread by a virus called the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) during sexual contact. We’ve told you about its causes and symptoms, screening including Pap smears. Here are are a few things you can do to prevent cervical cancer:
- Limit the number of sexual partners. Studies have related the number of sexual partners to HPV and thus cervical cancer.
- Quit smoking and avoid second-hand smoke. Research has shown that tobacco smoke combined with HPV infection accelerates the rate of cervical dysplasia.
- Always use condoms. Unprotected sex exposes you to HPV and other sexual infections which increase your risk for cervical cancer. Use them even if you are vaccinated for HPV as the vaccine may not be effective against all types of the virus.
- Schedule your Pap tests.The most important thing you can do to help prevent cervical cancer is to have regular screening tests (Pap test and HPV test). Cervical cancer can be prevented by prevention of HPV infection, as well as detection and treatment of precancerous changes to the cervix.
- Follow-up on abnormal Pap smears diligently as per your doctor’s instructions.
- Get the HPV vaccines (Cervarix and Gardasil). They can protect girls and young women against infection with two high-risk types of HPV (HPV 16 and HPV 18) that cause most cervical cancers. These vaccines prevent infection with HPV but do not treat existing infections or cervical cancer. They are safe and effective for females ages 9 through 26 years. The vaccine is likely to have the greatest effect when administered before the teen years, before the person is sexually active.