Cervical Problems

The Four Most Common Cervical Problems

When one thinks of possible cervical problems, cervical cancer is often the first thing that comes to mind. The good news is that cervical cancer is generally highly treatable, and there are other cervical problems that are much more common. We'll take a quick look at the four most common cervical problems.

Cervicitis - The cervix is the opening of the uterus, and is subject to several diseases and disorders, some of which are not serious, others which can potentially become serious but often go away on their own, and others which require treatment or at least close monitoring. The most common of the cervical problems is cervicitis, which is an inflammation of the cervix, often due to an infection. It is estimated that 50% of the female population experience cervicitis at least once. Cervicitis usually responds quite well to treatment, which may be either an orally taken antibiotic or a cream applied directly to the vagina. In severe cases, where medication does not work, cryosurgery, or electrocauterization may be needed. A foreign object in the vicinity of the cervix, such as a condom, diaphragm, or a cervical birth control cap, can sometimes cause an infection, as can unsafe sex, or sex with many different partners.

Cervical Dysplasia - Cervical dysplasia is another of the more common cervical problems, and one which can sometime frighten a patient more than is warranted.  Cervical dysplasia is an abnormal growth of cells in the tissues of the cervix, normally on the surface. These cells are usually considered pre-cancerous. Only a few cells may be involved, or many cells may be abnormal in more severe cases. This condition is most common in women in their mid to late 20's and early 30's. The exact cause of cervical dysplasia is unknown, but sexual habits appear to play a role, especially where sex in the mid teens or childbirth in the mid teens is part of the pattern. Since there are no symptoms, the pap smear is the primary indicator of a presence of abnormal cells. The problem often goes away on its own. If it does not after several months, or becomes more severe, tissue removal, electrocauterization, or cryosurgery may be needed. While generally highly treatable, if left untreated, somewhere between one-third and one-half of cases may become cancerous.

Cervical Polyps - Cervical polyps, like abnormal cells, affect the surface tissues of the cervix, and as was the case with abnormal cells, the cause is generally not known. These polyps are fairly common, and when they do occur, usually in a woman over 20 who has given birth, occur singly. The treatment is usually that of surgically removing the polyp, which is generally a simple procedure. The main danger of leaving a polyp untreated is that an infection may set in. Most polyps are non- cancerous, and once removed almost never return.

Cervical Cancer - Cervical cancer is naturally the most dreaded of the potential cervical problems. Cervical cancer is a presence of malignant cells in the tissues of the cervix. Cervical cancer is one of the more common cancers, but fortunately one of the easiest to treat, as it is generally slow growing, and in 90% of cases, the cancer remains confined to the cervical area, rather than spreading. Treatment of noninvasive cervical cancers have a nearly 100% success rate, while the invasive types can often be successfully treated if detected early. The pap smear has had a great deal to do with early detection of this cancer. The frequency of needing a pap smear is age dependent, and also depends upon certain risk factors a woman may have.

All women should have pap smear testing done on a regularly scheduled basis, to prevent worst case scenarios from happening when it comes to cervical problems. Fortunately, those problems that probably will arise, are the least serious, and are easily treatable.

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