Many women with cervical cancer don’t realise they have the disease early on, because it usually doesn’t cause symptoms until the late stages. When symptoms do appear, they’re easily mistaken for common conditions like menstrual periods and urinary tract infections (UTIs).
Any of the following could be signs or symptoms of cervical cancer:
The most common symptom of cervical cancer is bleeding from the vagina at times other than when you’re having a period. You may have bleeding:
- between periods
- during or after sex
- at any time after your menopause
Bleeding after sex
Bleeding after sex isn’t necessarily a sign of cervical cancer. It’s often caused by something called a cervical erosion or ectropion.
A cervical erosion means that the cells that are normally inside the cervical canal (glandular cells) can be seen on the outside surface of the cervix. It is common:
- in young girls
- during pregnancy
- in women on the contraceptive pill
This is due to changes in hormone levels. Sex can make you start bleeding.
Cervical erosion is nothing to do with cancer. It’s harmless and often goes away by itself or by changing contraception. Sometimes it might need treatment. Your doctor does this by freezing the area under local anaesthetic (cryotherapy).
As cervical cancer can also cause bleeding after sex, it is always sensible to get any unusual bleeding checked by your doctor.
Discomfort or pain during sex
Some women have discomfort or pain during sex. This is called dyspareunia.
There are many other conditions that can cause this symptom. But you should see your doctor straight away if you have this.
Some women also have:
- a vaginal discharge that smells unpleasant
- pain in the area between the hip bones (pelvis)
The symptoms of cervical cancer are not always obvious, and it may not cause any at all until it’s reached an advanced stage. This is why it’s important to you attend all your cervical screening appointments. The earlier the cancer is detected, the more chance of survival.
Cervical screening checks a sample of cells from your cervix for certain types of human papillomavirus (HPV). These types of HPV can cause abnormal changes to the cells in your cervix and are called “high risk” types of HPV.
If these types of HPV are found during screening (HPV positive result), the sample of cells is then checked for abnormal changes. If abnormal cells are not treated, they may turn into cervical cancer.
Did you know that you can also book to undergo cervical screening privately? At Pall Mall we can examine females from the age of 18. We offer private and discreet cervical screening services, click here for more information or call us on 03300 58 44 55.