While you’re off creating those New Year’s resolutions, we have one to add to your list: Take better care of your health with preventive screenings like a Pap test.
Pap tests are key to detecting irregularities that can lead to cervical cancer. Cervical cancer is caused by certain types of HPV, or human papillomavirus, a very common sexually transmitted infection. In most cases, the body’s immune system clears HPV naturally — but high-risk HPV may lead to cervical cancer in some women.
The good thing is there are steps you can take to better protect yourself from HPV:
- Use protection if you have sex – You can be exposed to HPV through genital skin-to-skin contact just once with someone who has the virus, so talk to your partner about the importance of being safe and protected.
- Get regular Pap tests – Pap tests can find abnormal cells in the cervix before the cells become cancer. Women should have routine Pap tests every three years starting at age 21.
And while there is no cure for HPV, there is treatment for the abnormal cell changes in the cervix that are caused by HPV. Treatment is also available for cervical cancer, which, when caught early, has a 93 percent five-year survival rate.
Keep your cervix healthy: schedule your Pap test at a Planned Parenthood center near you today.