The cervix is the lower part of the uterus, it is cylindrical in shape and measures about 2 centimetres in length. It has a canal within it which connects the inside of the uterus with the vagina. Sperm cells discharged into the vagina during intercourse pass into the uterus through the cervix and thence to the fallopian tubes. During labour the cervix dilates to allow passage of the baby, failure to dilate may lead to caesarian section to bring out the baby and several complications.
The cervix is therefore important in fertility, childbirth and contraception.
Cervical cancer is the second most common cancer in women after breast cancer, with several women being diagnosed with the condition annually around the world. While a few factors decrease the risk for the diseases several factors increase it; the few that decrease the risk include diet high in Vitamin A and Carotenoids such as carrots; use of intrauterine device (IUD) and use of barrier contraceptives such as condom, cervical cap and diaphragm.
Early diagnosis of cervical cancer affects outcome; it is actually one cancer where a cure can be achieved, hence we should be aware of the symptoms. Below are the symptoms common with cervical cancer although other conditions in women have similar symptoms.
1. No symptoms
Cervical cancer in its early stage or pre-cancerous stage has no symptoms, hence the importance of screening. PAP smear can pick up the condition in its pre-cancerous and appropriate treatment could achieve a cure.
2. Low abdominal (pelvic) pain
Cervical cancer can show itself as low abdominal pain, this could also be due to infections such as Pelvic Inflammatory Disease or a sexually transmitted disease such as gonorrheoa. Consequently if a woman experiences such a pain, she should see the doctor for proper examination, diagnosis and treatment.
3. Pain during sex
Cervical cancer can show itself as pain during vaginal sex, especially where there is deep penetration; this could also be due to infections or injuries. Consequently if you experience such a pain, see your doctor for proper examination, diagnosis and treatment.
4. Abnormal vaginal bleeding
Vaginal bleeding outside the normal cycle is abnormal; it could be bleeding in-between periods or bleeding after vaginal examination or prolonged bleeding or heavy bleeding.
Report any of these cases to your doctor immediately.
5. Vaginal bleeding after menopause
Menopause heralds the cessation of menstrual cycle, any bleeding after menopause is abnormal and should be thoroughly investigated. It could be due to cervical erosion or cervical cancer or fibroid or infections. Cancer must be ruled out.
6. Vaginal bleeding after sex
It is not usual to bleed per vagina after vaginal sex except there is a problem; one of such problems is cervical cancer. If vaginal bleeding is experienced after sex, it must be reported immediately to a health professional for thorough investigation. Do not hesitate.