Cervical health is an essential aspect of women’s gynecological and reproductive well-being. Yet, many women lack a comprehensive understanding of the importance of routine cervical screenings, preventative measures, and early detection for conditions such as human papillomavirus (HPV) and cervical cancer. With an expert like Barbara A. Hessel, MD. FACOG, it’s possible to build cervical health knowledge and leverage this information to maintain overall well-being.

Dr. Barbara Hessel is a board-certified obstetrician/gynecologist with over 25 years of experience working with patients in the Forest Hills, NY, area. As a member of the American Association of Gynecologic Laparoscopists and a recipient of the Special Excellence in Endoscopic Procedures Award, she has earned a reputation for prioritizing her patients’ welfare and providing superior care. Alongside her team at Northwell Health/Long Island Jewish Medical Center, Dr. Hessel is dedicated to empowering women by offering education, prevention, and early detection strategies for cervical health.

Armed with this crucial information, women will feel more confident in taking control of their cervical health and engaging in preventive measures to optimize their gynecological and reproductive wellness.

The Importance of Cervical Health and Routine Screenings

A woman’s cervical health directly impacts her gynecological and reproductive well-being. Routine screenings play a critical role in early detection of potential health issues, including HPV and cervical cancer. By regularly participating in cervical screenings, women can benefit from timely intervention and treatment, significantly reducing risk and complications.

1. Pap Test (Pap Smear)

The Pap test, also known as a Pap smear, is a standard screening method that entails a quick and straightforward collection of cervical cells using a swab. These cells are then examined under a microscope to identify any abnormal changes. Regular Pap tests can detect precancerous cells or early-stage cervical cancer, allowing for prompt treatment and minimizing long-term health complications.

2. HPV Test

The human papillomavirus (HPV) is a group of viruses that can cause changes to cervical cells, leading to the development of cervical cancer. An HPV test, which can be performed simultaneously with a Pap test, detects the presence of high-risk HPV strains responsible for causing cervical cancer. Both testing methods are vital for early detection and intervention.

Preventive Measures: The HPV Vaccine and Beyond

One of the most effective preventive measures for cervical cancer is the HPV vaccine. Additionally, adopting a proactive approach to cervical health can further minimize risks and complications.

1. HPV Vaccine

The HPV vaccine is highly effective in preventing infection from the most common high-risk HPV strains, which cause the majority of cervical cancer cases, as well as some vulvar, vaginal, and anal cancers. The vaccine is typically administered in a series of shots, and it is recommended for both girls and boys between the ages of 9 and 26.

2. Additional Preventive Strategies

Besides receiving the HPV vaccine, women can take other preventive measures to maintain cervical health:

  • Practice safe sex: Engage in protected sex using condoms and limit the number of sexual partners to reduce the risk of HPV infection.
  • Maintain a healthy immune system: A strong immune system can help fight off HPV infection and minimize the risk of cervical cancer. Embrace a balanced diet, regular exercise, and adequate sleep to keep the immune system in top condition.
  • Avoid smoking: Cigarette smoke contains harmful chemicals that can damage the DNA of cervical cells, making it harder for the body to combat HPV infection. Quitting smoking can significantly reduce the risk of cervical cancer.

3. Understanding Cervical Cancer: Risks and Symptoms

It’s crucial for women to be aware of potential cervical cancer risks and signs, as early detection increases the chances of successful treatment.

Risks

Certain risk factors may increase the likelihood of developing cervical cancer, including the following:

  • HPV infection: The primary risk factor for cervical cancer is an infection with high-risk HPV strains.
  • Weak immune system: Women with a compromised immune system are more susceptible to HPV infection and cervical cancer.
  • Age: Cervical cancer is most common in women between the ages of 35 and 44.
  • Smoking: As previously mentioned, smoking increases the risk of cervical cancer due to exposure to harmful chemicals.
  • Long-term use of oral contraceptives: Prolonged use of birth control pills has been associated with a slightly increased risk of cervical cancer.

Symptoms

Cervical cancer may initially present with mild or no symptoms. As the cancer progresses, women may experience:

  • Abnormal vaginal bleeding: This can include bleeding between periods, after sexual intercourse, or after menopause.
  • Unusual vaginal discharge: An increase in vaginal discharge or a change in its appearance, such as a watery or bloody discharge, may be a sign of cervical cancer.
  • Pelvic pain: Persistent pain in the pelvic area, particularly during sexual intercourse, may indicate cervical cancer.
  • If any of these symptoms are present, it’s essential to consult with a healthcare professional like Dr. Hessel for further evaluation and guidance.

4. Collaborate with Dr. Hessel for Your Cervical Health Needs

Dr. Barbara Hessel’s expertise in women’s gynecological and reproductive health can be an invaluable resource for those seeking to maintain optimal cervical health. Her commitment to patient education and preventive care ensures you have a reliable partner in safeguarding your well-being.

Embrace Proactive Cervical Health Care

By understanding the importance of cervical health and the preventive measures available, women can make informed decisions about their gynecological and reproductive well-being. Combining knowledge, preventive strategies, and the support of a trusted healthcare provider allows women to take control of their cervical health with confidence.

If you’re in need of expert guidance on cervical health or require professional evaluation, schedule a consultation with Barbara A. Hessel, MD. FACOG to ensure your well-being is in good hands. Take a proactive approach toward cervical health, and secure your gynecological and reproductive wellness. Contact our certified gynecologist in Forest Hills, NY, today.