‘‘At Your Cervix," Why Your Cervical Health is No Joke


Did You Know...

Within the female reproductive system the cervix performs the role of 'bouncer'; its protective features making it a vital 'gatekeeper', and likely why its health is the topic of interest this month. 

January is #NationalCervicalHealthAwarenessMonth, but if you're a woman, every day is a good day to be savvy about your cervical health!


The cervix is a fibromuscular organ unique to the female body. The cervix is narrow and channel-like, connecting the uterus to the vagina, with half its structure resting within the vaginal canal.


The typical size of a healthy cervix is 2-3 cm long, but varies depending on a woman's age, childbirth(s), and genetics.


Throughout her lifetime a woman's cervix performs many functions, but perhaps the one most widely referenced is dilation. During labor and delivery the cervix stretches (dilates) to nearly five times its original size -- from 2-3 cm to 10 cm. This miracle of God's design is something not even doctors fully understand!

The cervix's lining houses glands which produce and release mucus to keep bacteria from invading the other reproductive organs.

During a women's period, the cervix opens enough to allow blood to flow out from the uterus, and during ovulation pregnancy becomes possible when the cervical mucus thins slightly, allowing sperm entry to fertilize the egg.

During pregnancy the cervix becomes less flexible, taking on firmer, stronger characteristics which allow it to keep the baby protected. Additionally, a thicker mucus is secreted, forming a plug within the cervical canal; this mucus plug guards against bacteria and viruses entering the uterus, protecting the growing baby from harm.

Cervical Cancer & HPV

There was a time in U.S. history when cervical cancer was considered one of the leading causes of cancer death among women. Fortunately, in recent years, with the help of screening and prevention, this rate has significantly dropped, and continues to trend downward; but according to the National Cancer Institute , in 2022 there were over 14,000 new cases of cervical cancer reported and 4,280 cervical cancer related deaths.

Cervical cancer can be triggered by infections with bacteria and viruses. A prime example of this is Human Papilloma Virus (HPV). HPV is a sexually transmitted infection (STI) which accounts for approximately 90% of all cervical cancer.

Screening & Prevention

With this risk and because of the cervix's versatile and protective functions, it's important to maintain your cervical health throughout your lifetime. Some ways to do this include:

PAP Test: The purpose of getting regular PAP screenings is to discover any early abnormal cell growth and/or cancerous cells. Cervical cancer has some of the most favorable long term treatment outcomes when precancerous and even early-stage cancer is stopped in it's tracks, thus discouraging further cancer development.

Sexually active women of any age should see their trusted physician yearly for a gynecologic exam and PAP test (sooner if experiencing abnormal symptoms). Many women are unlikely to experience symptoms in the early stages of cervical cancer, which makes screening and prevention especially important.

HPV Test: The HPV test is typically recommended for women (age 30-55 years old) to have done along with their PAP test every 5 years. Exceptions include anyone with an abnormal PAP result. Check with your health provider for more information.

Vaccines: To date, the FDA has approved Gardasil, Gardasil 9, and Cervarix as HPV vaccines, to "prevent infection with certain subtypes of HPV including… two high-risk HPVs that cause some 70 percent of cervical cancers…".

The CDC recommends the HPV vaccine for men and women, age 15 – 26, who didn't vaccinate as a child. The vaccine isn't recommended for everyone, so ask your doctor if the HPV vaccine is right for you.

Because the HPV vaccine doesn't protect against all strains of the virus, it's important to continue your regular PAP screenings.


  • Stop smoking: Smoking lowers your immune system, it increases risk of cervical cancer, and places smokers with HPV at an even greater risk of getting cervical cancer than non-smokers with HPV.
  • Practice safer sex: Use a condom or dental dam to guard against HPV and other STIs during (vaginal, anal, and oral) sex.
    Any skin left exposed outside the barrier device, like the anus and genitals are susceptible to STIs. Abstinence (not having sex) is the only 100% effective protection against STIs.
  • HPV vaccine: Having HPV doesn't exclude you from getting the vaccine. Though most effective prior to HPV infection, the vaccine can still offer someone with HPV protection from other strains of the virus.
  • Regular STI testing: Chlamydia, gonorrhea, and syphilis can cause cervical cancer.
  • Have fewer sexual partners: With each additional sexual partner a woman's risk of HPV transmission increases, thereby increasing her risk of developing cervical cancer. Limiting sexual partners limits the rate of HPV exposure and decreases risk of cervical cancer.
  • Wait to have sex for the first time: Medical News Today says, "The younger a woman is when she has sexual intercourse for the first time, the higher the risk an HPV infection becomes. The longer she delays it [sex], the lower her risk."
  • Get regular PAP screenings.
  • Follow up with your doctor after abnormal PAP test results.

Just A Thought

Based on the cervix's intricacies of form and function it's clear to me that our bodies have been crafted with forethought and care – a masterpiece of God's design! (Psalm 39:13-15)

Ladies, you've been created in God's image and are worth a great price, (John 3:16-17, Romans 10:9-10) – I'd say this makes you loved, valued and worthy of care and protection!

For those of you in the back… you are valuable!

Guard your health: Take steps to minimize your risk factors, get regular screenings, and make safer decisions that protect the integrity of your body, mind, and heart. And finally, check out Heartland Pregnancy Care for free resources, help, encouragement, and hope!

Author: Vanessa 

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Friday, 08 December 2023

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