Cancer is a scary word. Emotionally and physically draining, it can be difficult to deal with. And, of late, we’ve been hearing it taking its toll on many people around us – some of our dear ones are battling it, some have managed to tame it (which is a major feat achieved) and some, unfortunately, are no longer with us. We have also been hearing a lot about cervical cancer too, haven’t we?
According to doctors, when the abnormal cells on the cervix begin to multiply rapidly, cervical cancer sets in. This type of cancer is usually caused when one contracts HPV (read: Human Papilloma Virus). A woman can get affected by this virus via sexual contact with someone who already has it (1). That being said, it’s important to remember that not every type of HPV is carcinogenic.
We, women, juggle so much every day that we often are hard-pressed for time to sit and listen to what our body says. In trying to please everyone around us, we miss the alarms our body gives us. But did you know cervical cancer can be treated completely if found at an early stage? Read on to know more about the signs you must pay attention to and head straight for a Pap test.
1. Irregular Menstrual Cycle
Bleeding while not being in ‘that’ time of the month is definitely a red flag to watch out for. It is basically your body’s way of letting you know that something isn’t right inside you. Especially in the case of cervical cancer, according to doctors, one of the most important sign to look for is irregular bleeding. Bleeding that occurs between your menstrual cycles, after lovemaking, or post-menopause (2).
If you notice that your periods are stretching too much and are getting more heavy and painful, then do not blame it on age or stress and ignore the signs your body is sending. It is time for you to head straight for a Pap test. Although it sounds scary, trust us, it makes a lot more sense to catch cervical cancer at an early stage than to battle it later.
2. Vaginal Discharge
Vaginal discharges are a normal occurrence for all women in the reproductive age and we all experience it to some extent. It is nothing but a fluid that is generated by the glands in your nether regions, and it consists of dead cells and bacteria. A vaginal discharge is actually a blessing in a way as it keeps our lady bits clean and free from infection-causing bacteria (3).
According to doctors, an abnormal vaginal discharge, however, is a sign that you need to head to your doctor for a screening. Now, how do we know what kind of discharge can be categorized as abnormal? Well, the following are the types of discharges that are not considered as normal. If you see any of those, it is time you book an appointment with your doctor at the earliest.
- Watery discharge.
- Brownish discharge.
- Bloodstained discharge.
- Bad odour accompanying the discharge.
- An unusually light discharge.
3. Pelvic Pain
As of late, have you been experiencing pain when you and your partner make love? If making a trip to the bedroom increasingly feels like a nightmare and you begin to look at between-the-sheets fun as painful and uncomfortable, it is time you get yourself checked.
Pain in the lower abdomen or pelvic region, or pain during intercourse are strong symptoms of cervical cancer (4). Such kind of pain usually indicates changes in the cervix that could be abnormal. In fact, cervical cancer can even spread to the pelvic region. To ascertain if one indeed has cervical cancer, doctors conduct a Pap test on the cells taken from the cervix region. If there have been some unusual changes seen in the cervical cells, then a battery of advanced tests are conducted to examine your cervix for cancerous cells.
Our body has an amazing way to tell us as to when it doesn’t feel right. The ‘signs’ that it gives get louder as the issue progresses. But we sometimes even miss these loud and clear signs, thinking them to be trivial, as we give higher priority to our work and the huge list of responsibilities that we carry on our shoulders. But it is important to remember that a healthy body is the first and most important step in fulfilling all those burdens of mortal life that we have been carrying around, isn’t it?
Ignoring one’s body is not right and self-diagnosis is worse. So, the next time you see anything of the above happening to you (God forbid!), do not bat an eyelid before fixing a date with your doctor! Any disease, including cancer, if diagnosed at an early stage will do less harm to your body and significantly increase your chances to recover better and faster. Now, who wants a fit, fab, and disease-free body? We don’t see any hands down!