Cervical Health Awareness Month is a chance to raise awareness about how women can protect themselves from HPV (human papillomavirus) and cervical cancer. HPV is a very common infection that spreads through sexual activity. It’s also a major cause of cervical cancer. About 79 million Americans currently have HPV. Many people with HPV don’t know they are infected.

Each year in the U.S. nearly 13,000 women are diagnosed with cervical cancer, and more than 4,000 die as a result. The disease takes an even greater toll globally as the vast majority of cervical cancers occur in low-income countries. In both the U.S. and abroad, cervical cancer is most often found in women living in poverty and who lack access to healthcare.

Providing access to medical care is only part of the job. It is important that patients and providers both feel comfortable talking about their sexual health, including cervical cancer screenings and prevention. These conversations are often rushed through or avoided altogether.

According to the American Sexual Health Association, there is no single solution to ending cervical cancer but it is clear it involves more than just quality healthcare. When it comes to sexual and reproductive health, patients should have the confidence to seek the care and support they need. They encourage every woman to talk with her healthcare provider about all of the prevention tools available: Pap and HPV tests and cervical cancer vaccines.

It is crucial to know and identify the signs and symptoms of cervical cancer. Even if early signs of cervical cancer may not exist, it is imperative for women to have pap smears done regularly in order to detect any potential threat.

Decatur County Memorial Hospital recognizes January as Cervical Health Awareness Month and urges every woman to make a New Year’s resolution to talk with their healthcare provider about cervical health! If you would like more information about Cervical Cancer or to schedule an appointment with one of our board certified OBGYNs, please call 812-222-2273.