Hi ladies (and the guys that love them), I hope you are doing well?

Today I will be talking about something that many of us shy away from (as you can see from the title).

February 4 was the international day of cancer awareness and I was able to see the statistics of how many women die of cervical cancer year in year out.

According to the cancer research centre in the UK, Incidence rates for cervical cancer in the UK are highest in females aged 30 to 34 (2015-2017).

What is Cervical Cancer?

Cervical cancer is when abnormal cells in the lining of the cervix grow in an uncontrolled way. The cervix is part of the female reproductive system. It is the opening to the vagina from the womb.

What Causes Cervical Cancer?

  1. Age: Cervical cancer is more common in younger women. More than half of the cervical cancer cases in the UK each year are diagnosed in women under the age of 45.
  2. HPV (Human Papilloma Virus) Infection: The human papilloma virus (HPV) is a major cause of the main types of cervical cancer. There are different types of HPV. Most are harmless but some cause genital warts, and others cause changes that can develop into cancer. As well as cervical cancer, HPV can cause anal, vaginal, vulva, penile and some types of mouth and throat cancers. HPV can be passed on through close skin to skin contact, usually during sexual activity.
  3. Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV): Having human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) or AIDS increases the risk of developing cervical cancer.
  4. Other sexually transmitted infections: The risk of cervical cancer may be increased in women who have a sexually transmitted infection (STI) alongside HPV. Women with both HPV and chlamydia might have a higher risk of cervical cancer.
  5. Smoking tobacco: It increases your risk of getting cervical cancer. The risk increases with the more cigarettes you smoke a day and the younger your age when you start smoking. It also makes it more difficult to treat abnormal cells on your cervix.
  6. Contraceptive pill: 1 in every 10 cases of cervical cancer is linked to taking the contraceptive pill. It can also increase the risk of breast cancer. But it is important to know that taking the pill can help reduce the risk of womb and ovarian cancers, so consult your physician/midwife before taking contraceptive pills.
  7. Other possible cause includes; family history, having other types of cancer, cosmetics, inserting and feeding your vagina with all sorts of things like kayanmata, steaming, douching, perfumes, stress, etc

What Are the Symptoms or warning signs of Cervical Cancer?

During the early stage of cervical cancers and pre-cancerous cell changes there is usually no symptoms. Not everyone diagnosed with cervical cancer will have symptoms, that’s why it’s important to attend regular cervical screening. The most common symptoms of cervical cancer include:

  • unusual vaginal bleeding
  • pain or discomfort during sex
  • vaginal discharge
  • pain in the area between the hip bones (pelvis)

Please note that there are many other conditions that cause these symptoms. Most of them are much more common than cervical cancer. What to do if you have any of these symptoms is to speak to your physician or go for a cervical screening.

In the Next post, we will cover the prevention, the treatment and the prognosis of cervical cancer.

Let me know if you found this post informative.

See you in the next post.

Adenike Olakunle.