HPV is very common in anyone who is sexually active. That’s why just about every woman is at risk for cervical cancer.
The following factors may increase your risk of cervical cancer:
- Infection with HPV. Most women who develop cervical cancer have had an HPV infection. Among women with persistent HPV infection, not getting screened regularly is the most important risk factor for cervical cancer.
- Sexual activity started at an early age. Cells in the cervix change during puberty and are more vulnerable to damage.
- Sexual activity with many partners. Having many sexual partners can increase your exposure to HPV and increase your risk of getting cervical cancer.
- Sexual activity with a partner who has had many previous sexual partners. If your partner(s) has had many sexual partners, their exposure to HPV is increased, putting you at a higher risk for cervical cancer.
- Smoking. Smoking can make it less likely that an HPV infection will clear up on its own.
- Giving birth multiple times. Pregnancy causes changes in hormone levels, which may increase your risk of cervical cancer. The more children you give birth to the greater your risk of cervical cancer.
- Diagnosis of a condition that weakens your immune system. Conditions that weaken the immune system, like Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV), can increase your risk of getting other infections, like HPV. A weakened immune system can also decrease the chances that an HPV infection will clear up on its own. Cells can change more quickly if you are HIV positive, increasing your risk of cervical cancer.
For more information about these risks, talk to your healthcare provider about your plan for screening.