January is Cervical Health Awareness Month, which is a perfect time to think about your cervical health. While you may not think about your cervix often, paying attention to its health may save your life.
Your cervix is a cylinder-shaped area of tissue that connects your vagina to your uterus. This particular part of your body is at risk of developing cervical cancer, which affects about 13,800 American women each year. Fortunately, cervical cancer is often preventable. Dr. Alan Patterson shares these tips about what you can do to protect yourself.
Getting a Pap smear is one of the most important things you can do for your cervical health. The Pap smear is a screening test that evaluates your cervix for possible changes, which can be early signs of cancer. When detected early, cervical changes can often be addressed before they develop into cancer.
How often you’ll need to get a Pap smear varies for each woman and is based on Dr. Patterson’s assessment. However, if you’re sexually active and can’t remember when you had your last Pap smear, it’s a good idea to come in for one as soon as possible.
The human papillomavirus (HPV) is a common sexually transmitted disease. Many people don’t know they have it, which is part of why it’s transmitted so easily. However, certain strains of HPV can lead to cervical cancer if they remain undetected, which is why it’s so important to test for them.
The strains of HPV that we test for are HPV 16 and 18, which are responsible for about 70% of cervical cancer cases. If you test positive for these strains, we will likely recommend a procedure called a colposcopy. This procedure magnifies the cells of the cervix to look for abnormal changes.
HPV is preventable. One of the best ways to prevent it is to get the HPV vaccine. It’s most often given before the age of 26, although you can receive it up to age 45. It’s important to note that the vaccine is effective in both men and women, which means that a vaccinated male may be less likely to give the virus to you. Ask your partner about their HPV vaccination status.
Although it’s not known if condoms prevent HPV transmission, particularly because there are areas of the male and female genitals that condoms don’t cover, we do know that condoms are associated with a lower risk of cervical cancer.
On a related note, having a higher number of sexual partners is associated with a higher risk of cervical cancer as well.
We all know that smoking is bad for your health, even if you only smoke on occasion. But smoking also increases your risk of developing cervical cancer. Studies have found that if you’re a smoker and you’re exposed to the HPV strains that cause cervical cancer, you’re much more likely to develop cancer.
Quit smoking now for the sake of your health, including your cervical health. Having trouble quitting? We can help.
If you would like to schedule an appointment for a Pap smear or to discuss your cervical health, we would be happy to hear from you. Call our office in Coral Springs, Florida, or request an appointment online.
1. We are still seeing obstetrics patients in our office to ensure that our pregnant patients are getting the care they need. If you are pregnant, please call us to book your appointment today. We are also seeing patients in our office that are having gynecological problems or gynecological emergencies.
2. Here's what we're doing to ensure the safety of our patients who come into the office for their appointments:
We are ensuring that patients are not experiencing respiratory issues when they visit our office.
We are sanitizing all service areass on a regular basis.
We are wearing masks and gloves to reduce the probability of virus transmission.
We are washing our hands for 20 seconds after every interaction we have, inside and outside of the office.
Patients may not be accompanied by other people at their appointments.
3. We are offering telemedicine appointments for the following conditions: yeast infections, UTIs, birth control consults, vaginitis (vaginal infections), hormone replacement therapy consults, pre-menopause, menopause, amenorrhea, and abnormal periods. We are also offering in-person appointments for gynecological problems and emergencies. We are also offering well-woman Gyn exams for existing and new patients.