13 Jan Cervical Cancer Awareness Month
January is Cervical Cancer Awareness Month, and it’s a good time to educate ourselves, and others around us, about this preventable disease and learn how it can affect female fertility.
Cervical cancer is a type of cancer that affects the cervix, which is the lower part of the uterus that connects to the vagina. It is most commonly caused by the human papillomavirus (HPV), a sexually transmitted infection that is easily preventable with a vaccine.
Cervical cancer is most common in women between the ages of 30 and 50, but it can occur at any age. Fortunately it is also one of the most preventable types of cancer. Regular pap tests, which check for abnormal cells on the cervix, can help diagnose the disease early, and thus increase the chances of successful treatment.
In addition to getting regular pap tests, it is important for women to practice safe sex and get the HPV vaccine to prevent infection. The HPV vaccine is recommended for both males and females, starting at age 9, and can be given up until age 26. It is also important for women to abstain from smoking, as smoking can increase the risk of cervical cancer.
While cervical cancer is often treatable if caught early, its treatment can have an impact on a woman’s fertility. Depending on the stage of the cancer and the treatment used, fertility can be affected in different ways. Some treatments, such as radiation therapy and chemotherapy, can temporarily or permanently affect the ovarian reserve, and therefore a woman’s ability to become pregnant.
This is why it is key for women, who have been diagnosed with cervical cancer, but are planning on having children in the future, to discuss fertility preservation options with their healthcare provider before starting oncological treatment. Fertility preservation options include egg or embryo freezing, since these options can guarantee women the opportunity to have children in the future, even if the treatment itself has affected their fertility.
Reproclinic is joining the initiative to raise awareness about cervical cancer and its prevention. We encourage all women to take control of their reproductive health by getting regular pap tests, practicing safe sex, and getting the HPV vaccine if they are eligible. Together, we can work towards reducing the impact of cervical cancer on women’s fertility.