Disclaimer :: This post contains content sponsored content provided by FENOM Women’s Care.
There are a million little ways we should all care for our body and all its amazing parts. For most of our body, it’s pretty much common sense. We do curls for our biceps, crunches for our abs, squats for our tush, eat a varied diet for our guts, brush our teeth, do cardio for our heart and lungs. But how should we take care of the health of our cervix?
It’s pretty easy, and like most things, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.
Let’s review the prevention and maintenance recommendations for good cervical health.
First you may be asking: What exactly is my cervix, and where might I find it? Well, your cervix is a fibrous tube that makes up the bottom part of our uterus (womb). It is found at the top of the vagina and connects the vaginal canal with the interior of the uterus. It is the path that sperm must traverse to find an egg and create a pregnancy, the structure that opens to let the conceived kiddo out.
It is also the leading cause of cancer in women. This year it is estimated there will be almost 15,000 new cervical cancer diagnoses in the United States and more than 4,000 women will die from the disease. But this is absolutely one cancer you have the ability to predict and prevent. So what can you do to make sure your cervix stays healthy? Read on for three easy to-dos.
1. Get the HPV Vaccine
Human papillomavirus is the virus that causes cervical (and other) cancer, and there is a handy-dandy vaccine just for cancer prevention.The HPV vaccine was first approved in 2006 with four types of the virus in the vaccine. It expanded to the current nine-valent formulation in 2014. Its safety and efficacy have been proven over millions of doses. The vaccine is now approved for all people ages 11-45.
So yes — if you missed the vaccine as an adolescent or young adult, you can and should get the vaccine to improve cervical health. My partners at FENOM and I all got the series when the age increased.
Recent studies have reinforced this idea with data that getting vaccinated after testing positive for HPV can help you to clear the virus. It’s a two-to-three shot series, depending on how old you are (less than 15 years old gets two doses, and older than 15 gets three doses).
2. See Your Gynecologist Every Year
Every year? Yes, every year! This visit will often, but not always, include a pap smear. The pap test with or without HPV testing screens for cervical cancer. The guidelines for when and how often to do pap testing have changed over the years. Honestly, they are ever evolving.
Regardless, having your gynecologist take a look at your cervix (pap or no pap) is part of maintaining good cervical health. If your pap test is abnormal, or positive for HPV, you may need a closer look with a colposcopy (a procedure where your cervix is examined with a microscope) and possible a few small biopsies. This is an uncomfortable but not necessarily painful and hopefully quick procedure that makes sure your pap screening test was accurate.
If your biopsies come back abnormal, you may need a further procedure (a LEEP or Cone procedure) to remove the affected cells and prevent cancer formation.
3. Stop Smoking and Vaping
Tobacco is fuel to HPV’s fire and is a direct enhancer of its ability to cause cancerous transformation to your cervical (and other) cells.
There is no amount of tobacco that is good for your health, and vaping and e-cigarettes are no exception. The rest of your body will thank you, too. So if you smoke, ask for help to stop. If you don’t, never start. It’s a hard habit to kick, but you will be so much healthier in the long run.
If you have questions about your cervical health, talk with your gynecologist. We are here to help and to make sure you and your cervix stay happy and healthy!
Dr. Andrea Palmer is an Oklahoma native turned Texan in 2016 when her family moved to Fort Worth. She has a special interest in robotic surgery and has attended several advanced training programs with the DaVinci surgical system. Dr. Palmer graduated from University of Oklahoma and attended medical school and residency at OU Health Sciences Center, where she served as chief resident. She practiced in Oklahoma City at Lakeside Women’s Hospital, where she served as chief of staff for seven years before moving to Texas. Palmer is married to another busy physician and has two school-aged children. She now practices with FENOM Women’s Care at Baylor All Saints in Fort Worth. Follow Dr. Palmer on Instagram. Read more article by Dr. Palmer HERE.
FENOM Women’s Care is not just a practice in medicine. It is a practice in female humanity. The finest general obstetrics and gynecology combined with care that extends beyond check-ups and physical wellness, this all-female physician team offers real woman-to-woman insight in order to both inspire and fulfill a true continuum of health throughout the female life. Follow FENOM on Facebook and Instagram.