Take Care of Your Reproductive Health from an Early Age!
The reproductive organs are vital organs that humans have. The importance of maintaining this organ from an early age, starting during adolescence, is useful for a person's survival. The number of teenagers who have premarital sexual relations for the first time is quite high at the age of 15-20 years. This condition is worrying because it is accompanied by a lack of knowledge among teenagers regarding reproductive health and is at great risk of causing problems with sexually transmitted diseases and cervical cancer. Having intimate relations at an early age, changing sexual partners, a weak immune system, and smoking are factors that trigger cervical cancer, apart from that, exposure to Human Papillomavirus (HPV) infection is one of the causes of cervical cancer.
What is cervical cancer?
Cervical cancer begins when cells in the cervix begin to change into precancerous cells. Not all precancerous cells will turn into cancer, but finding these precancerous cells through screening and treating them before they turn into cancer is very important.
Signs and symptoms of cervical cancer
Usually early stage cervical cancer does not cause symptoms and is difficult to detect. The first signs of cervical cancer may take several years to develop. Finding pre-cancerous cells during an examination is the best way to avoid cervical cancer.
Signs and symptoms of early stage cervical cancer:
- The vaginal discharge is watery and sometimes mixed with blood and has a foul smell.
- Vaginal bleeding after intercourse, bleeding outside the menstrual cycle or after menopause.
- Menstruation that is more abundant and lasts longer than usual.
If the cancer has spread to nearby tissues or organs, symptoms include:
- Pain and difficulty urinating, sometimes accompanied by blood in the urine.
- Pain or bleeding from the rectum and anus when defecating.
- Weakness, weight loss and appetite.
- Back pain or swelling in the legs.
- Pelvic/abdominal pain
Causes of cervical cancer
The HPV virus is the most frequent cause of cervical cancer, which is a sexually transmitted infection. HPV is spread through sexual contact (vaginal, anal or oral). Most people will contract HPV at some point in their lives and develop immunity. However, if the body cannot fight the infection, it can cause cervical cells to turn into cancer cells.
Cervical cancer screening
The goal of cervical cancer screening is to detect cell changes in the cervix before they become cancerous. There are several tests that can be done, namely:
- Pap smear test: Detects abnormal cells or precancerous lesions in the cervix.
- HPV Test: Detects high-risk types of HPV infection that cause cervical cancer.
Doctors also recommend a combination Pap test/HPV test if you are over 30 years old.
How to prevent cervical cancer?
There are several ways to prevent cervical cancer, namely:
- Perform regular gynecological examinations and do Pap smears.
- HPV vaccination.
- Use a condom when having sex.
- Don't change partners.
- Quit smoking.
What is the cervical cancer vaccine?
The HPV vaccine can be given to children and adults aged 9 to 45 years. This vaccine triggers the body's immune system to attack certain types of human papillomavirus (HPV). It is best to get vaccinated before starting sexual activity. Vaccines are given in series. The number of injections required varies depending on the age at which you receive the first dose. To find out whether you are eligible to get the vaccine, you can consult a doctor.