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January is Cervical Cancer Prevention Month

1/10/2014, noon

What is cervical cancer?

Cervical cancer is cancer of the uterine cervix, which is the lower, narrow part of the uterus (or womb). The cervix connects the uterus to the vagina.

Abnormal cells in the cervix can turn into cancer if they aren’t found early and treated. Cervical cancer is more common in women over age 30.

The cervix connects the uterus (or womb) to the vagina.

Learn more about cervical cancer and screening:

For information about other services covered by the Affordable Care Act, visit HealthCare.gov.

Get ready for your Pap test.

Try to schedule your Pap test for a time when you won’t have your period. For 2 days before your test, doctors recommend that you don’t:

Use tampons

Have sex

Use birth control creams, foams,

or jellies

Douche (rinse the vagina with water or other liquid)

Get help understanding your Pap

test result.

Lower your risk of cervical cancer

A major cause of cervical cancer is HPV (human papillomavirus). HPV is the most common STD (sexually transmitted disease).

Some types of HPV can cause genital and anal warts. Other types of HPV can cause cervical cancer and other types of cancer.

You are at higher risk of getting
HPV if you:

Started having sex before age 18

Have unprotected sex

Have many different sex partners

Have a sex partner who has other sex partners

Doctors recommend that women age 26 and younger get the HPV vaccine. The HPV vaccine is given in 3 shots over 6 months. The shots protect against the types of HPV that cause most cases of cervical cancer.

Girls and boys can get the HPV vaccine, too. If you have kids, ask their doctor about the HPV vaccine.

Get your well-woman visit every year.

Talk to your doctor or nurse about other important screenings and services to help you stay healthy.