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Women: Use condoms to reduce chances of contracting cervical cancer

07 April 2015, 09:47 Winnie Mwirikia

Cervical cancer is the second leading cause of cancer deaths worldwide. It is important to know the risk factors for cervical cancer. The commonest cause of cervical cancer is human papilloma virus (HPV) or warts. They infect cells on the surface of the skin in your genitals, anus and mouth and throat but not your blood. They are mainly spread through skin to skin contact especially during vaginal, anal and even oral sex. The virus causes warts in your genitals, cervix, vulva and vagina in women. The infection is chronic and eventually leads to cervical cancer. HPV infects both males and females but lead to cancer only in women.

In thinking about the risk, then you will understand and avoid the human papilloma virus like a plague. HPV is common and mostly passed through sex! Most sexually active women will come into contact with at least one type of HPV in their lifetime. However, HPV doesn’t have to be spread through sex; putting your mouth, anus, genitals into contact with those of another person who carries the virus could easily infect you, explains Dr. Moima, a gynecologist.

Sometimes, the virus causes no harm and goes away on its own.

If men use a condom during penetrative sex, the chances of a woman becoming infected with HPV go down. Reducing smoking for those who do it also helps reduce the risk. Women who smoke are more likely to develop cell cervical cancer. Researchers have found cancer causing chemicals from cigarette smoke in the cervical mucus of women who smoke. These chemicals damage the cervix. There are cells in the lining of the cervix that specifically help fight against disease. These cells do not work so well in smokers.

Men unknowingly can be carriers of HPV. It remains latent in men for long periods of time without any noticeable symptoms in the penal area.

Read Also: Early sex increases risk of cervical cancer

Currently, there is no direct treatment for HPV but the warts and abdominal cell can be treated. There are also vaccines to prevent HPV infection. These vaccines protect against the strains of HPV that are most likely to cause cervical cancer. But they don't protect against all strains. So to be safe it is still important to carry on with cervical cancer screening.

If you have a high risk type of HPV infection and smoke, you are twice as likely to have pre-cancerous cells in your cervical screening test, or to get cervical cancer. The risk of squamous cell cervical cancer is doubled in women who smoke. You can protect yourself against HVP by following these simple precautions:

- Use condom to reduce the transmission of the virus. Condoms will not only protect you against HIV, Gonorrhea or Syphilis and other risky STIs, but also against HPV and cervical cancer in the long run.

- Limiting the number of sexual partners, frequency of sexual intercourse or even abstinence.

- Ensure your partner(men) is circumcised or encourage them to go for the cut. Just like HIV, uncircumsised men are more likely to have higher chances of acquiring the virus and harboring it in the foreskin and transferring it easily to their partners.

- Know your partner’s status, both HIV and HPV.

- Take time to know somebody and test before initializing unprotected sex.

Ladies, it is worth knowing that HPV is undetectable in men and only affects women in the long run. So how many more people does the disease need to affect to receive attention?

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Disclaimer: All articles and letters published on MyNews24 have been independently written by members of News24's community. The views of users published on News24 are therefore their own and do not necessarily represent the views of News24. News24 editors also reserve the right to edit or delete any and all comments received.

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