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4 Ways to Educate Yourself More on ‘the Silent Killer,' Cervical Cancer

HelloFlo is a womens health company committed to normalizing the conversations we have about womens bodies so that we can all live healthier lives.

When it comes to cervical cancer, we still have a lot to learn

Each year, 12,000 women are diagnosed with cervical cancer. Thanks to screenings, Pap smears and vaccinations, prevention and treatment is possible. Nonetheless, we are going to keep talking, promoting and encouraging women to take the right steps to get there.

According to the American Society of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, women should have an exam every two years once they turn 21. At the age of 11 or 12, Gardasil, the HPV vaccination, should be given to boys and girls who are not yet sexually active. Women can lower their risk of being diagnosed with cervical cancer or HPV a lot by beginning very early on with preventative measures.

More: Cervical Cancer Death Rates Much Higher in Black Women

Here are a few tips that further expand on how to deter and detect cancer and the HPV virus.

1. Learn about HPV and cervical cancer

Cervical cancer has been linked to the common virus human papillomavirus, the most common sexually transmitted disease. Some strains cause warts, others lead to cancer and many have no symptoms and heal on their own. Twenty million people are living with HPV, with the highest numbers in women who are 20 years old. By the age of 50, 80 percent of women have been infected with HPV. However, for most women, approximately 90 percent, the infection regresses on its own within two years.

About 4,000 women in the United States die from cervical cancer a year, while 12,000 are diagnosed. Dubbed the “silent killer” because of its notorious reputation of having zero symptoms, cervical cancer may take 10 to 15 years to progress.

Some side effects of abnormal cervical cell changes are:

  • Bleeding from the vagina
  • Pain in the lower belly or pelvis
  • Pain during sex
  • Vaginal discharge that isn’t normal

2. Get it over with and go in for your Pap smear

Look, you may hate it, but it could save your life one day. Pap tests detect precancerous cervical lesions, which can be removed before turning into cancer.

More: Cervical Cancer Survivor, 24, Shows It Can Happen to Women at Any Age

If your Pap is abnormal and lesions are found, you may have a cervical cone biopsy, cauterization or an excision, which will destroy or remove the abnormal areas. While precancerous cells or HPV do not necessarily indicate cancer, treatment and precaution will highly reduce your chances of being diagnosed with cervical cancer. Because HPV and cervical cancer may not have any symptoms, an exam is necessary.

3. Gardasil is your pal

A recent study proved that Gardasil is a preventative vaccination that can reduce the chances of women contracting HPV. Issued in a 3-shot regimen, Gardasil produces antibodies that fight four strains of HPV, two of which are the most connected to cervical cancer. We are lucky to have a tool for determent and the deaths from cervical cancer in the United States have declined by 2 percent a year.

More: What You Need to Know About Cervical Cancer

4. Never stop learning more

While all of this information may seem a little daunting, you can ensure a healthier life by following through with treatment, finding the necessary help and keeping up with your gynecological exams. You can motivate and support women to learn about cervical cancer and HPV. Let’s encourage young women to take the correct steps toward a healthier and responsible lifestyle.

What else can you do to take care of your cervical health? Sound off in the comments below.

By S. Nicole Lane

Originally published on HelloFlo.

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