As a company that promotes sexual and intimate health, we thought we were in a good position to educate people about Cervical Cancer. As Cervical Cancer Prevention Week 2019 approaches (21st – 27th January 2019), we wanted to make as many women as possible aware that cervical cancer CAN BE PREVENTED.
Jo's Trust is the only charity in the UK dedicated to supporting those affected by cervical cancer and that's why they've launched Cervical Cancer Prevention Week with their #SmearForSmear social media campaign.
If you have a cervix, you are at risk of cervical cancer;
- Women of all ages can be affected by cervical cancer
- Cervical cancer is most common in women between 25-29
- Cervical cancer is the 14th most common cancer for women in the UK
- There are around 3,200 new cases of cervical cancer diagnosed each year in the UK
HPV is the number 1 cause of cervical cancer
Human papillomavirus (HPV) is a common virus that can be passed from one person to another through sexual activity. Both men and women can be infected with HPV and it can be present in the body for years without any symptoms. HPV is also linked to other cancers including the throat, penis, anus, vulva and vagina.
Using condoms during sex offers some protection against the transfer of HPV but the virus can still be spread through skin-to-skin contact of the wider intimate area.
There are warning signed but not early warning signs
Cervical cancer often presents with no symptoms in the early stages. As the disease progresses you may experience pelvic pain, abnormal bleeding, painful urination, unusual discharge, irregular menstrual cycles, pain or bleeding after sex, urinary incontinence and back pain. If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, make an appointment with your GP.
The best way to protect yourself from cervical cancer is to have a cervical screen, also known as a smear test.
All women in the UK between the ages of 25 and 63 are invited to have a smear test every 3 years. From the age of 64 the smear test invite is issued every 5 years.
During the smear test a small sample of cells is taken from the cervix to be examined under a microscope. Most abnormal results are due to the presence of HPV, not necessarily the presence of cancerous cells. There are over 100 strains of HPV and only two are known to cause cervical cancer.
Since 2008, the HPV vaccine has been routinely offered to girls ages 12 and 13 and is also available free of charge to all girls up until their 18th birthday.
Always attend your smear test when invited
Smear tests prevent 75% of cervical cancers, so while they may not be pleasant, they are very important. Up to 1.2 million women do not attend their smear test each year when invited but just remember 30 seconds of discomfort could save your life.