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Student Health supports cervical health awareness month

January is Cervical Health Awareness Month, and WVU Student Health is here to remind you to take care of your reproductive health. Wondering how you can prevent cervical cancer and take steps to protect yourself? We’ve got you covered. 

Cervical health is extremely important for women of all ages and it begins with prevention. Carrie Pratt and Renee Dobranksi are both advanced practice providers at Student Health who focus specifically on women’s health and reproductive health. Dr. Sara Farjo, DO and Dr. Saira George, MD are also trained to provide care to women at WVU by seeing patients for things like birth control, annual exams, problem visits and more. Read on to hear more about what our experts had to say regarding this very important health awareness month. 

“The first step in prevention is getting the Gardasil vaccine. This is a vaccine that prevents cervical cancer, so make sure you complete the series,” said Pratt. 

Gardasil is a series of three vaccines that should be given over the course of six months. It is recommended that males and females receive the vaccine at the age of 11 or 12 and before they are sexually active, however, this vaccine is covered by insurance until age 26. 

“If you haven’t had the Gardasil vaccine or have not completed the series, come see us so we can make sure you are protected. Just because you are sexually active doesn’t mean it’s too late to prevent certain types of cancers,” said Dobranksi. 

Dr. Farjo wants students at WVU to know the consequences of having sex, and to really think about who you are being sexually active with.

“One of the biggest risk factors associated with cervical cancer is multiple partners, so always practice safe sex,” she said.

So, how can you lower your risk of cervical cancer and take charge of your cervical health? Aside from making sure you have had the Gardasil vaccine, women who are 21 and older should also have a pap test completed annually. 

“Cervical cancer progresses very slowly, so as long as young women are being checked annually; it can almost always be treated and caught before it becomes life threatening,” said Dobranski.

Providers at Student Health also want to remind men that they are not excluded from the risk factors associated with HPV. 

“HPV doesn’t just cause cervical cancer. It can cause several different types of cancers,” said Pratt.

“Wherever you are being sexually active, whether it is oral, anal or vaginal, the HPV virus can exist there and cause cancer in any of those areas. This is what makes HPV a risk to men as well as women,” said Farjo.

If you start to notice any new symptoms or complications, including irregular bleeding, changes in discharge or any new bumps or lesions, stop in or make an appointment at Student Health right away. Annual women’s health exams and the Gardasil vaccine are covered by the Aetna Student Health Insurance as well as most major medical insurances. Call 304-285-7200 to schedule an appointment. 

About Student Health
WVU Student Health provides quality healthcare on campus for WVU students. Women’s health, flu shot clinics, STI testing and walk-in care are just a few of the services offered. For additional information about Student Health services and special events, contact Chelsea Betts at (302) 249-6732 or via email at chelsea.betts@wvumedicine.org. Follow us on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook at: @WVUSHS for updates.