January is Cervical Cancer Awareness Month! Ok, so maybe it doesn’t sound all that exciting, but it IS very important. So let’s take a quick moment to chat about it.

The good news is that cervical cancer is very preventable. It used to be one of the most common causes of cancer death for women, but over the last 30 years the cervical cancer death rate has gone down by 50% (yay!). But that doesn’t mean we don’t have to pay attention to it. The reason the death rate went down so much is because we now have better screening and prevention tools. 
Here are some things you should know: 

ALWAYS GET YOUR PAP TEST DONE! Really, don’t skip these, this is the key to catching cervical cancer early. Its recommended to get a Pap test at age 21 and then every 3 years after. Women 30 and older can have an HPV test with the Pap. Even if you’ve had the HPV vaccination you should still be tested. 

HPV is the main cause of cervical cancer and it is out there in a big way. About 80% of people who are sexually active will be infected with HPV at some point. Fortunately, there’s a vaccine now. Its recommended that both boys and girls get the vaccine at age 11 or 12. Kids should be getting all three doses before they start having sex. HPV vaccinations are given through the age of 26 for women and 21 for men.

Condoms protect your cervix from sexually transmitted infections. Female condoms provide better coverage, so consider using those.
Smoking is linked to cervical cancer because the nicotine becomes concentrated in the cervical mucus. This makes abnormal cell changes more likely. 
Nutrition plays a role as well. These vitamins and nutrients have been shown to help nourish the cervix and support our immune system:

·       Beta-carotene (yellow-orange vegetables or fruits like carrots, cantaloupe, peaches, squash);
·       Folic acid (dark green leafy vegetables and asparagus);
·       Vitamin C (citrus fruit);
·       Vitamin E (whole-grain cereals and breads); and
·       Lycopene (cooked tomato products like puree and paste, rosehips, watermelon, pink grapefruit).
More good prevention information can be found here.
Now we’re all in the know! So let’s pull on those teal stretch pants and spread the word!