Emily Reid, Campus Carrier reporter
January is national Cervical Cancer Awareness Month. After discovering this, Director of Health Center Emma Cordle and her students workers decided that women at Berry should be educated on what to expect during their first pap smear.
Cordle is very passionate about this issue, and wants Berry students to know the facts before their health could be in jeopardy.
“A lot of students don’t know that pap smears need to be done every three years, starting at the age of 21,” Cordle said. “Most people assume you must get checked once you go on birth control or become sexually active, but that’s not necessarily the case.”
In the past, when women became sexually active or went on birth control they would get their first pap smear, even before the age of 21. What came back were pap smears with abnormal results because HPV is so common. A lot of biopsies were done on females at a young age, and because they had an immature cervix, it was coming back HPV positive on their pap smears.
Cordle explained that eventually, experts found that a lot of people’s bodies would take care of the HPV virus as they matured, and they would not develop cancer.
“They discovered that if they would just wait a couple of years and let the cervix mature a little bit more, they wouldn’t have to do as many unnecessary biopsies,” Cordle said.
Unless both partners are virgins when they get married, most people have had contact with HPV. Cervical cancer is very treatable if caught early, and the gardasil vaccine prevents about 90 percent of HPV cervical cancers.
Because the shot was so controversial when it first came out, a lot of young women did not get the vaccine. Cordle highly recommends the vaccine, since it is now approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for women up until the age of 26. The vaccine is also recommended for men to prevent spreading HPV to women.
Through the Health Center’s tabling event, students can learn about the free gynecological services offered at Berry, including pap smears. The gardasil vaccine is not offered in the Ladd Center, but it is offered at the local health department.
In an email sent by Health Center on Wednesday, they announced that the event would be cancelled due to unforeseen circumstances. However, students are urged to bring questions about cervical and testicular cancer to Berry nurses, and the Health Center will provide free HIV testing dates. Cordle furthermore urged regular check-ups to maintain cervical health.
“Make sure you get your pap smear at 21 and go at least every three years,” Cordle said. “Just because you get it every three years doesn’t mean that you don’t have to go to a doctor for a regular check-up. Please get your regular check-up and stay on top of your health. If you haven’t gotten your HPV vaccine, think about it and look into it.”
Cordle’s student staff at the Health Center have worked hard to ensure that students become more aware of cervical and testicular cancer through these events. They hope to see more Berry students interested in learning about bettering their health and taking care of themselves.