Nothing strikes fear in a woman than to feel a lump in her chest. And she has cause to be afraid: It could be a sign of breast cancer, the most common cancer in women. But unknown to many, it is not the leading cause of cancer-related death among females.
While only the second most common women’s cancer, cervical cancer is the deadliest. It is the top cancer killer of women in the world, largely in developing countries, followed only by breast cancer.
Sadly, the disease often strikes women who are at the prime of their life. The peak age of manifesting premalignant cervical lesions is when women are in the 30s. Thousands of women die from cervical cancer every year, mostly in poor countries.
The good news is, cervical cancer is preventable – and highly curable, if discovered early. With periodic screening, you stand a good chance during that long lull to screen, detect, and treat those lesions before they lead to cancer.
Every woman is at risk. But at higher risk are those with these particular characteristics:
- Have warts in the anal or genital areas.
- Started having sex soon after first menstruation.
- Have or had several sexual partners.
- Have or had a sexually transmitted disease.
- Are previous or current smokers.
- Have poor immunity or resistance to diseases.
When any of these factors apply to you, you should seek prompt testing for cervical cancer or it precancerous signs.
Early cervical cancer usually has no symptoms, though bleeding or spotting between periods or after intercourse may occur. This is why women do not know they have cervical cancer until it’s too late.
In later stages, a woman may have abnormal bleeding between periods, after intercourse, or after menopause. She may also experience foul-smelling watery and bloody vaginal discharge. In advanced stages, there may be pelvic pain.
Cervical Cancer And Your Sex Life
Initially, you might disregard your sex life when you found out you had a cancer because you are focused on your other priorities. It doesn’t matter if you are in a casual or long-term relationship, you may experience significant changes in your sexuality as a result of cervical cancer diagnosis.
In some cases, a woman may feel worried and anxious about having sex because of the thoughts that it would cause bleeding or that it might make the cancer return. While there’s no medical evidence that engaging in sex will make the cancer worse, it is very important that you give your body appropriate time to rest and allow it to heal for a few weeks after having a surgery or radiotheraphy.
Other women stated that their sex life have improved or returned to normal after a radiotheraphy because they are no longer experiencing vaginal bleeding. Some who had their Wertheim’s hysterectomy or trachelectomy operation noticed only a slight change when they first had sex and only a few experienced they had less intense orgasms.
There’s information published at Medscape regarding the changes in sexuality and intimacy among couples. An open-ended questionnaire was fulfilled by 156 participants who were partners of cancer patients. Eighty-four percent of them reported an impact on their sexual relationship after cancer that was associated with anger, lack of sexual fulfillment, rejection, depression and self blame.
Avoiding the disease is possible, primarily by adopting a healthy lifestyle, having regular Pap tests and getting a cervical cancer vaccine – this simple three-step approach can keep you safely out of its reach.