January 25, 2020
During this time of year, lots of women are mulling over better health strategies. Most focus on losing weight or improving their diet in hopes of addressing the biggest threats like cancer and heart disease. Not surprisingly, cervical health is rarely on the radar of those eager to start the month off on the right foot, but I’m here to convince you otherwise.
Your cervix is more important than you probably realize. It is literally the gatekeeper for your uterus, keeping unwanted things like bacteria and viruses out and letting important things pass through, like sperm, menstrual fluid and babies.
This year, 13,000 women will be diagnosed with cervical cancer, and 4,000 will die from the disease. The number one cause is human papillomavirus (HPV) — the most common sexually transmitted infection (STI). Roughly 79 million American men and women have HPV, and 14 million new cases will be diagnosed in 2020, mostly among teens and people in their early 20s. HPV is tricky, because most sexually active people get it at some point, but it usually goes away on its own and causes no health problems. While there are more than 100 types of HPV, only 14 are known to be cancer causing, and it can take years —sometimes even decades — before cancer develops as a result.
Science is on your side, however. The HPV vaccine and cervical cancer screening combine for a one-two punch to significantly decrease your cervical cancer risk. Regular Pap tests can detect abnormal cervical cell growth before it becomes cancer, and the HPV vaccine prevents 92% of HPV-related cancer cases.
As a result, improved cervical health is one of the easier goals you can achieve this year. You don’t need to spend endless hours at the gym or deprive yourself of the things you love to be successful. Here are four things you can do to protect your cervix in 2020 and beyond:
There is no time like to present to revamp your health. Taking better care of your cervix may be one of many improvements you hope to make this year, but thankfully it’s easy to check off the list. If you haven’t been to your health care provider lately, make an appointment to talk about the ways you can protect your cervix. It’s a minimal time, maximum reward commitment, so do yourself a favor and prioritize taking care of your cervix.