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Cervical Health Awareness Month 2019

This post was written by Nik Sparlin (they/them/theirs), the Communications and Development Assistant at Mabel Wadsworth Center.

January is a month of new goals, preparation for the year to come, and (if you couldn’t already tell by the name of this blog post) it’s also Cervical Health Awareness Month!

So how can you optimize your cervical health? The answer is actually pretty simple: Vaccinate and get screened regularly.

Getting the HPV Vaccination can help prevent you from getting infected by both high-risk types of HPV that can lead to cervical cancer and low-risk types that can lead to genital warts. Children ages 11 and 12 are recommended to get the vaccine in two doses. For those who are 15 to 45, three doses are required to make the vaccine effective.

Getting screened regularly involves seeing your sexual and reproductive healthcare provider for an annual wellness exam. Pap smears should be done once every three years for anyone with a cervix from ages 21 to 65. (If you have had an abnormal pap result, your provider may recommend getting them done more often.) A pap test allows your provider to screen for cervical changes that could lead to cervical cancer. When detected early, these changes are nearly 100% curable!

Starting at age 30, you have more options, according to the CDC: You can either continue to get a pap smear once every three years, you can get a pap with an HPV test every five years, or you can get an HPV test every five years. At Mabel’s, we provide HPV screenings with pap tests.

The Maine CDC has a program that helps low-income folks to get free or low-cost breast and cervical cancer screenings. Follow this link to find out more about the program and to see if you qualify.

But annual exams can offer more than just pap smears. At Mabel Wadsworth Center, our annual wellness exams may involve doing a general wellness check (ex: blood pressure, height/weight, anemia screening), clinical breast and pelvic exams, STI testing (which should be done annually for anyone who engages in sexual activities), and is also a great time to go over birth control and other aspects of your sexual and reproductive health. The services that we provide at your visit are up to you, depending on what you decide is best for your needs.

Our providers specialize in reproductive and sexual health, and our client-centered mission means that your input is key: We put people in charge of their healthcare and are glad to give you the time and space you need to ask questions. You can learn more about our providers here.

To schedule your annual exam at Mabel Wadsworth Center, call (207) 947-5337 or email info@mabelwadsworth.org. We accept private insurance and MaineCare and are happy to offer reduced fees through MabelCare for uninsured clients.

Have a happy and healthy 2019!