Cervical Cancer Std

So many of the risk factors for cervical cancer are related to sexual behavior, that the disease is considered by many to be “sexually transmitted.” Certain characteristics like early age at first intercourse, high lifetime number of sexual partners, and having a partner who began having sex at a young age or who previously had sex with someone who developed cervical cancer, are all thought to add to a woman’s risk. Presumably, all of these risk factors simply reflect a higher chance of becoming infected with sexually transmitted diseases. Indeed, infection with the human papillomavirus (HPV) is considered the number one risk factor for developing cervical cancer.

Human Papillomavirus (HPV)

Human papillomavirus, also known as HPV, is the best described risk factor for developing cervical cancer. Researchers are evaluating other possible connections between cervical cancer, HPV and other sexually transmitted diseases.

Chlamydia

Chlamydia, a bacterial infection, is one of the most common sexually transmitted diseases in sexually active individuals between the ages of eighteen and thirty. Women who have contracted chlamydia may or may not have symptoms. Symptoms include vaginal discharge, spotting between periods, painful periods, abdominal pain with sexual intercourse, and urinary pain.

Women who are sexually active should be tested for chlamydia at the time of the Pap smear. Some evidence suggests a connection between chlamydia infections and cervical cancer. Chlamydia is easily treated with antibiotics, but left untreated can result in pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) and eventually infertility.

Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV)

Human immunodeficiency virus is a sexually transmitted disease that can result in acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS). The virus itself damages the immune system making it difficult for the body to fight off infection and disease. Individuals with AIDS are at a higher risk of developing cervical cancer.

Herpes Simplex Virus-2

Herpes simplex virus-2 is a widespread sexually transmitted disease affecting almost a quarter of the United States’ population. Like HIV and HPV, herpes is a virus. Herpes cannot be cured, but some symptomatic treatment is available to minimize the frequency and duration of flare-ups. A recent study showed that individuals who are infected with both genital herpes and HPV had double the risk of cervical cancer.

Protection as Prevention

With all STDs, minimizing the risk of infection is most important. High-risk sexual behaviors increase the risk of developing sexually transmitted diseases. Certainly, abstinence is the most reliable method of prevention against sexually transmitted diseases, however, studies show that condoms do act as a barrier against the transmission of STDs. Proper use of condoms may reduce the risk of infection by sexually transmitted diseases, but are not 100 percent effective.

Latex Condoms and STDs

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), “Latex condoms, when used consistently and correctly, are highly effective in preventing transmission of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. In addition, correct and consistent use of latex condoms can reduce the risk of other sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), including discharge and genital ulcer diseases. While the effect of condoms in preventing human papillomavirus (HPV) infection is unknown, condom use has been associated with a lower rate of cervical cancer, an HPV-associated disease.”

Resource

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (updated 2003). Male latex condoms and sexually transmitted diseases. Retrieved August 12, 2003, from www.cdc.gov/hiv/pubs/facts/condoms.htm.