Hey guys! January is Cervical Cancer Awareness Month. If you have a cervix or not, please be an extension of my voice this month. Please have the conversations that are uncomfortable to have with the men, women, and young adults in your lives. The highlight reel would be:
- Ladies, get your pap smear regularly (and for the love of all that is good, get the follow up if it’s necessary!). Check with your doctor to find out how often you should get a pap.
- Parents, get your kids vaccinated against HPV!
- Condoms are not fool proof here. HPV, which causes cervical cancer (and 5 other cancers), is a contact disease. So unless you’re wearing a full body condom from start to finish when you’re revving up for, doing, and snuggling up after the dibbity, you are at risk of contracting HPV if your partner is infected.
- HPV has no symptoms and usually clears within about a year of infection, but can “hide” in the body for years. There’s no way to know for sure when an infection occurred or who the culprit is. So even if you’ve been with the same person for ever and a day or you haven’t had sex in at least as long, you could still be at risk.
- Even someone who has only had sex with one partner could be at risk if that person’s list extends beyond +1. And on that note, keep in mind that, while we’d all love to believe that our partners are 100% honest with us, there’s always, always the chance that they aren’t. Furthermore, since HPV is spread skin to skin and not by exchange of sexual fluids, penetration is not necessary to spread the disease. So, ladies, be your own advocate and go get a pap. Better safe than sorry.
- Boys need to be educated and vaccinated too. While it’s far less common for males to develop cancer (though the risk is higher in males having anal sex than in those not), men can contract HPV and pass it along just as easily… where on earth do you think all the women are getting it???
- Cervical cancer is one of the most preventable cancers. If caught early enough, it can generally be wiped out. There are rare cases, like mine however, where that is not the case. I was getting my pap smears like whoa, and it just happened that the cancer in my body was far more aggressive than most (a 4cm tumor grew on my cervix in 3 months; a tumor that size generally takes years to form). All I can say is, I’d hate to think how bad all of this would have been if I hadn’t been so diligent with the screenings.
Please spread the word. If we can save just one person, I would be happy. Imagine what it would be like if we saved a bunch
For more information, check out these sites:
National Cervical Cancer Coalition - http://www.nccc-online.org/index.php/overview
The Yellow Umbrella – http://www.theyellowumbrella.org/
About the HPV vaccine – http://www.cdc.gov/hpv/vaccine.html