Wrapping up Cervical Cancer Awareness Month

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Christie Erickson, a nurse practitioner from Essentia Health, sat down with us to share more about what women need to know.

Some symptoms of cervical cancer include:

1) Changes with your menstrual bleeding cycle such as irregular bleeding or heavier bleeding or discharge that’s different than your normal cycle.

2) Pelvic pain and pain after intercourse.

Erickson added more about your gynecological health. “So in general, we recommend that women do pap exams and a pelvic exam starting at the age of 21, and then at least until the age of 65, when you’re 21 years old, we generally are saying every three years is about the cycle for doing those. And then after the age of 30, we can go to every five years because we can do the pap along with HPV testing.”

As for a diagnosis and what’s next, Erickson said there are different ways to treat it. “There are a few options as far as laser treatments that can get rid of the superficial cells. Sometimes women do need surgery.”

Prevention is also key. “Over 90% of cervical cancers are caused by a virus, the HPV virus. And this is a virus that we have a vaccine for. So it’s actually pretty amazing that it’s the one cancer that we have the vaccine to prevent. And so it’s it’s something that’s recommended. We start as early as age nine for the vaccine series, mostly because our younger people, they’ve got really robust immune systems,” Erickson added.

Basically, if anything changes with your health, make sure you reach out to your provider.