The cervix is an area of the female’s body. It is located between her uterus and vagina. Cervical cancer can develop when cells in this part of the body become abnormal and then multiply rapidly. You should keep in mind that this type of cancer can be life-threatening if it goes untreated or undetected.
Human papilloma virus or HPV is a type of virus that causes almost all of the cases pertaining to cervical cancer. Fortunately, qualified doctors can screen patients for precancerous cells and this specific virus. They will be able to suggest appropriate treatments designed to prevent the cancer from occurring.
Now, you might have heard from some people that exercise have helped them avoid cervical cancer. Is this true? Can regular exercise really fight off a cervical cancer diagnosis?
Does Regular Exercise Help? Can it Lower an Individual’s Cervical Cancer Risk?
Women, who DO NOT engage in physical activity on a regular basis, automatically increase their risk of developing cervical cancer. To be fair, it is not like physical exercise can make you completely invulnerable to cervical cancer. However, it can significantly reduce your risk of a cervical cancer diagnosis. Committing to at least 30 minutes of aerobic exercise on a weekly basis is a good start.
The Power of Exercise
You see, exercise in general, can help lower the risk of developing a variety of cancers, e.g. endometrial, ovary, breast, colon, and more. This protective effect exists even when you stop smoking and lose weight. Currently, it is unclear what the link between cervical cancer and exercise is, but past research tells us that women who are active and exercise often are also more likely to go for regular cervical cancer screenings. This suggests a relationship between good preventive health habits and exercise patterns.
The main message here is that women have to start doing something. In other words, any level of exercise helps. Unfortunately, many women are often frustrated and confused with physical activity and exercise-related recommendations. When they repeatedly experience such confusion, they may throw in the towel and choose to do nothing. This happens because they might feel that they can no longer adhere to the recommendations.
Researchers around the globe have agreed that physical activity and regular exercise join cervical cancer screening, not bad habits like smoking. Additionally, getting all of the necessary HPV vaccinations are active steps that any women can take to decrease their risk of contracting cervical cancer.
If you feel that you have time and are motivated to exercise more than 30 minutes per week, you can consider following the 2008 Physical Activity Guidelines, which recommends at least 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic exercises weekly or at least 150 minutes of moderate-level exercises weekly. You can even choose to combine the two options. If you are unsure of your physical capabilities, you can always consult a fitness coach or your primary care physician.
What are the Common Signs of Cervical Cancer?
Here is a quick look at the common signs of cervical cancer:
- Sudden weight loss (for unknown reasons)
Certain factors that cause cervical cancer-related can also cause unintended weight loss. This type of cancer can compress the stomach of the individual. In this case, the person cannot hold a lot of food. In addition, cervical cancer patients tend to feel nauseated for most parts of the day. Hence, they may not even want to try to eat. If you notice that you are losing between five or 10 percent of your bodyweight, over the course of six months (without exercise or dieting), call your primary care doctor now.
- You feel like vomiting all the time
When you experience persistent indigestion or nausea, it can be a sign of cancer, including cervical cancer. This type of cancer, at its advanced stage, can cause the cervix to swell. When it does, it affects your abdominal cavity, compresses the stomach and gastrointestinal tract, and even causes acid reflux. Before you opt for gynae input, you should consult your primary care physician.
- Experiencing major fatigue
Most cervical cancer symptoms are not obvious until it enters more advanced stages. Fatigue is one of these symptoms. When abnormal bleeding occurs in the vaginal, it lowers the amount of red blood cells a woman has, including oxygen levels. This causes the individual to feel utterly exhausted for most parts of the day. For women, they should not take chronic fatigue lightly.
- Leg, back, and pelvic pain
When pelvic pain occurs, it may be indicating there are changes to the individual’s cervix. Advanced cervical cancer can spread to the liver, the lungs, the intestines, or the bladder. When these organs are affected, the individual may start to experience leg pain or back pain. However, these are typically associated with very advanced cases. Why? The cervix does not really affect a lot of nerves in the body.
- Strange vaginal discharge and bleeding
Vaginal discharges are normal for women. However, it is the type of discharge you experience that matters. Each type indicates a different vaginal health issue. In the case of cervical cancer, the individual might notice a discharge that is pink/brown/bloody in color, foul-smelling, and potentially with chunks of tissue (this is called necrotic material). Tumors and masses in the body tend to secrete fluid. These elements contribute to a watery and continuous discharge that seems to occur for no reason.
- Extremely heavy periods
When a woman’s period lasts a day longer or seems a bit darker than usual, there is usually no cause for alarm. But red flags are raised when the individual’s period suddenly lasts two weeks instead of four days. Or that she experiences two periods in one month. If you experience any changes in your cycle that last for two cycles or more (including them being lighter, heavier, etc.), you should consult your gynecologist.
If you are experiencing one or more of the above symptoms, it is imperative that you consult your doctor without delay.