January is Cervical Health Awareness Month, so I did a little research (thanks, https://www.plannedparenthood.org/ !) to see what collegiettes need to know about cervical cancer and reproductive health.
What the &*@# is it?
Cervical cancer affects about 12,000 women in the U.S. each year, and it is caused by dangerous strains of HPV. HPV, Human Papillomavirus, is a sexually transmitted virus that has over one hundred different strains.
Condoms can prevent some strains of HPV, but there are vaccines (Gardasil, Cervarix, etc.) that can protect the body from up to 70% of cancer-causing strains. The preventative vaccines do not contain any live virus, so there is no chance of contracting HPV from the vaccine. Although the recommended age for vaccination is in the eleven to twelve range, women can be vaccinated until age 26.
Although the average age of diagnosis is late 40s, it is never to early to practice safe sex and get in the routine of checkups. Gynecologists recommend that women receive their first pap smear when they’re 21, and then have one every few years. If you don’t have a gynecologist you visit regularly, Planned Parenthood has doctors available.
Visit https://www.plannedparenthood.org/learn/womens-health/cervical-cancer for more info!