This is Cervical Cancer Awareness Month, the perfect time to discuss cervical cancer. All women are at risk for cervical cancer. It used to be one of the most common causes of cancer deaths in American women, but thankfully, more women are being screened for the disease, which has helped drive the numbers lower. But it still exists, and early diagnosis is key. Here now, are five things to know about cervical cancer, courtesy of the affordable clinics that make up the UrgentMED network.
What is Cervical Cancer?
Cervical cancer is cancer that occurs in the cells of the cervix, which is the lower part of the uterus that connects to the vagina. That’s also the part of a woman’s body in which a baby grows during pregnancy.
According to the National Cervical Cancer Coalition, each year, nearly 13,000 women in the United States are diagnosed with cervical cancer. Research also shows that most women are diagnosed between the ages of 35 and 44, while about 15% of cervical cancers hit women over age 55. Few women under the age of 20 are diagnosed with cervical cancer.
What You Need to Know
Cervical Cancer is Connected to a Sexually Transmitted Infection
Cervical cancer is mostly caused by a virus called human papillomavirus or HPV, which is most commonly spread through vaginal or anal sex. HPV is the most common sexually transmitted infection (STI). In most cases (about 9 out of 10), HPV goes away on its own within 2-years and doesn’t cause any health issues, but sometimes it lingers, leading to cancers and other diseases.
Cervical Cancer Symptoms Are Not Present Right Away
You may have early cervical cancer and may not even know it. That’s because it’s a slow-growing cancer and its signs and symptoms don’t show up right away. But as the cancer spreads and becomes more advanced, the signs and symptoms become more evident. They include:
- Vaginal bleeding after intercourse, between periods, following a pelvic examination
- Vaginal bleeding after menopause
- Increased vaginal discharge that may have a foul order
- Unexplained, persistent pelvic pain or pain during sexual intercourse
Early Detection is Key
Cervical cancer can be detected with regular Pap tests or Pap smear which we offer here at UrgentMed. Detecting cancer earlier increases the patient’s chance for proper treatment. If you have symptoms, be sure to make an appointment with your doctor, or stop by an UrgentMED center for testing.
Cervical Cancer Can Be Treated
Treatments for cervical cancer include surgery (which is the main treatment), targeted therapy, radiation therapy, chemotherapy, or a combination. You and your doctor will discuss the best approach for you, depending on the size of the cancer and whether it has spread to other parts of the body. Your doctor will also take into consideration your age, along with other factors.
Cervical Cancer Is Almost Totally Preventable
This all points to the need for even more preventative measures. You can reduce your risk of developing cervical cancer by having screening tests and receiving a vaccine that protects against HPV infection: the HPC vaccine, which is safe and effective. And according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), all children 11 or 12 years old, should get two shots, six to twelve months apart. The CDC also makes recommendations for all age ranges.
Visit Us to Get on a Healthy Track
Hopefully, this cleared up any misconceptions you may have had about cervical cancer. Be sure and visit an UrgentMED to get an HPC vaccine and other vaccinations, where you can also pick up prescribed and non-prescribed medications and medical supplies.The affordable clinics that make up the UrgentMED network provide fast and affordable emergency care, and with 15 locations, we’re conveniently located near you. UrgentMED is the largest comprehensive urgent care network in Southern California. We look forward to helping you stay on a healthy track.
The National Survey of Sexual Health and Behavior reports that approximately 30% of women have experienced painful sexual intercourse. Dyspareunia, as it’s called, is quite common. However, many women are unsure whether the pain they are experiencing is abnormal or not.
There is no singular answer as to what causes pain during sex. The severity and types of pain can range from fleeting to chronic. If you are experiencing pain during or after sex, contact a medical professional at the UrgentMED Network immediately as there could be an underlying health issue.
Vaginismus is a disorder of vaginal muscle spasms that can make sex very painful, if not impossible. It is an apareunia in that it completely prevents any type of sexual intercourse. Involuntary contractions of the pelvic floor muscles cause the vagina to squeeze very tightly. This makes it difficult to insert a penis or tampon and to conduct medical examinations. There are three types of vaginismus, and each categorizes how prevalent this disorder is in an individual and how often it occurs. While the cause of vaginismus is unknown, it has often been linked to anxiety or a specific fear towards sex.
This is a form of vaginismus that a woman develops at some point in her life due to a specific event. It is specific in its definition that the woman was able to have normal intercourse at some previous point and time. Some causes of secondary vaginismus could be infection, menopause, childbirth, or surgery. In the instance that the cause has been healed but the muscle spasms persist, it may be that the body has become conditioned to react this way.
Certain situations or people may trigger this type of vaginismus. For example, sexual encounters with certain people may trigger it, but others may not. A gynecological exam might cause the muscles to spasm, but inserting a tampon isn’t a problem. As the name implies, it’s very situational and varies greatly from person to person.
This is the most extreme form of global vaginismus. It is always present and can be triggered by any object.
Endometriosis is another common disease that can cause pain during sex. This chronic disease is when the tissue that lines the uterus has abnormal growth on the outside of the uterus. The misplaced tissue can become inflamed, causing painful cramping and eventually developing into scar tissue. As the tissue builds up over an adult woman’s life, the growth becomes larger and more painful. This continues until menopause occurs when the tissue stops being produced.
Approximately 10 to 20% of women in the U.S. are afflicted with endometriosis. The primary symptom is pain in the form of menstrual cramps. The growths can also cause intestinal pressure or be painful to the touch.
Cervicitis is a bacterial infection that causes inflammation of the cervix. It is a very common source of sexual discomfort and affects more than 50% of all adult women. Causes of cervicitis can be STDs (chlamydia, gonorrhea, herpes, HPV), allergies to a form of birth control (spermicides or latex condoms), exposure to certain chemicals (douches, etc.) or inserted objects. Besides the immediate pain caused by an inflamed cervix, other symptoms may include bleeding after intercourse, unusual discharge, or pain during urination.
Sexually Transmitted Diseases
It is common knowledge that STDs that can cause pain both during and after sex. Many of the symptoms of sexually transmitted diseases, such as chlamydia and gonorrhea, cause inflammation and itching of one’s genitals.
If you are a woman experiencing cervix pain during intercourse or a man experiencing a burning sensation during sex, contact a medical professional near you. Sex shouldn’t cause pain. Contact the UrgentMED Network for quick and discreet testing to diagnose your sexual concerns.