The risk of developing cervical cancer is higher among women who have given birth to 3 or more children. Women who have multiple children may be more sexually active and thus more vulnerable to HPV infection or cancer, possibly due to hormonal changes or a weakened immune system. There are several risk factors of developing cervical cancer post pregnancy and tips to reduce the risk. Onlymyhealth editorial team spoke to Dr. Bhumika Kotecha Mundhe, Gynaecologist & Obstetrician at Masina Hospital, Mumbai, to know about the risk of cervical cancer after pregnancy and preventive measures for the same.
Risk of cervical cancer post pregnancy
Age may also be a risk factor behind developing cervical cancer post pregnancy. Women who have a baby before age 20 are at a higher risk than people who wait until after 25. Also, it's thought that women who were younger than 20 years after they had their first full-term pregnancy are more likely to develop cervical cancer later in life than women who waited to become pregnant until they were 25 years or older.
There are a couple of other risk factors like human papillomavirus (HPV) infection, sexual history (becoming sexually active at a young age-less than 18 years old), having many sexual partners or one partner who is considered high risk because of his HPV infection or who has many sexual partners, smoking, having a weakened system, chlamydia infection, long-term use of oral contraceptives (birth control pills), and last but not the smallest amount, having a case history of cervical cancer.
Tips to reduce the risk of cervical cancer
Here are a number of important and useful tips to stop cervical cancer. The most important thing is to subject yourself to a screening test and get yourself vaccinated.
1. Screening test
What is a screening test? Checking for cancer (or for abnormal cells that will become cancer) in people that haven't any symptoms is called screening. Several screening tests are shown to detect cancer early and to cut back the prospect of dying from that cancer. Not all cancers have screening tests. Samples of some common cancer screening tests that are known to lower cancer death rates include colonoscopy for carcinoma, mammography for carcinoma, and cytosmear for cervical cancer.
2. Pap test
What is a Pap test? Pap test, cytologic smear, or liquid-based cytology (LBC). These are the terminologies used for cervical cancer screening tests. A diagnostic test could be a test where a tiny low brush is employed to carefully remove cells from the surface of the cervix or mouth of the uterus, which is seen during routine gynaecological evaluation by a gynaecologist. These cells are then collected on a slide, which might be checked under a microscope for cervical cancer or cell changes that will cause cervical cancer. A cervical smear may help us find other conditions like infections or inflammation.
3. Getting Yourself Vaccinated
Another screening test is the HPV test, which looks out for the virus (human papillomavirus) which will cause these quiet cell changes. The HPV vaccine protects against the kinds of HPV that cause the majority of cervical, vaginal, and vulvar cancers. There are some 100+ subtypes of HPV viruses.
• HPV vaccination is recommended for preteens aged 11 to 12 years, but it is often given as early as age 9
• The HPV vaccine is also recommended for everyone up to age 26 if they have not already been vaccinated.
• Some adults between the age of 27 years through 45 years who aren't already vaccinated may plan to get the HPV vaccine after speaking with their doctor about their risk for brand-new HPV infections and therefore the possible benefits of vaccination. HPV vaccination during this age range provides less benefit, as more people have already been exposed to HPV. If vaccination is started before age 15, a two-dose schedule is usually recommended, with the doses given 6 to 12 months apart. For those that start the series after their 15th birthday, the vaccine is given in an extremely long series of three shots.
HPV vaccination prevents new HPV infections but doesn't treat existing infections or diseases. This is often why the HPV vaccine works best when given before any exposure to HPV. You ought to get screened for cervical cancer regularly, whether or not you received an HPV vaccine. There are other things which may be done to forestall cervical cancer, like avoiding smoking, using condoms, and avoiding multiple sexual partners. Some research suggests that girls who had ever used an IUD had a lower risk of cervical cancer.