World Sexual Health Day: Cancer is also an issue
There are many more aspects to the topic of sexual health than are apparent at first glance. We want to use World Sexual Health Day as an opportunity to draw attention to cervical cancer, which develops from a sexually transmitted HPV infection.
Definition of sexual health
The World Health Organization (WHO) defines sexual health as a state of mental, emotional and spiritual well-being. Thus, it does not only mean the absence of disease or dysfunction. The WHO definition also includes respect for sexual rights of all people to have sexual experiences that are free from coercion, discrimination and violence.
Sexual health and cervical cancer
When talking about sexual health, cervical cancer also has to be discussed. Because already the development of cervical cancer is related to the sexual activity of the affected woman. An infection with human papilloma viruses (HPV) is responsible for the development of cancer of the uterine cervix. These are usually transmitted during sexual intercourse. The HP viruses are widespread. Thus, almost everyone becomes infected with HPV at least once in his or her life. In most cases, this is not bad at all. Most people do not even notice their infection. But in a few cases, HPV infection can develop into e.g. cervical cancer.
Cervical cancer is curable when detected early
The good thing, however, is that cervical cancer develops slowly, over years and in preliminary stages. For the women affected, the chances are therefore good that the disease will be detected early, and treated in good time. For this reason, every woman should take advantage of the cancer screening measures offered by her gynecologist.
HPV is also associated with other cancers, including cancer of the mouth and throat, anus, penis, vagina and vulva.
HPV-positive or Pap smear is abnormal
Depending on the age of the woman, screening for cervical cancer includes a Pap test and/or a test for HPV. If the tests reveal abnormalities, there is usually only a hint of possible cancer. Sometimes the tests give a false alarm, as the HPV infection heals without any problems or slight abnormalities disappear on their own. For this reason, the gynecologist decides whether further examinations are necessary or whether the affected woman should repeat the tests after a certain period of time, usually three to six months. This procedure is also called watchful waiting.
Unclear findings put a strain on the psyche
Unclear findings place a great deal of psychological strain on affected women. This was made clear in a study published in 2020. This psychological stress can even go so far that the affected women develop signs of post-traumatic stress disorder. For this reason, we are campaigning for more accurate and rapid diagnostics of cervical cancer and for more comprehensive education.
World Sexual Health Day raises awareness
World Sexual Health Day was launched in 2010 by the World Association for sexual health (WAS). It aims to promote sexual health, well-being and rights for all.
We are happy to do our part for sexual health by providing education in our field. Our goal is to fight cervical cancer with accurate and early diagnostics.