Some of the lifestyle choices you make can decrease your chance (risk) of getting HPV, and in turn decrease your risk for cervical cancer. That’s because this type of cancer is almost always caused by HPV.
The following can help decrease your chance of getting HPV:
- Get the HPV vaccine (link to “what is the HPV vaccine” section below). Talk to your healthcare provider about the HPV vaccine and whether it’s right for you.
- Consider limiting sexual partners. Know that each new sexual partner increases your chance of coming into contact with someone who has an HPV infection. Knowing your partner’s sexual history is also important.
- Practice safe sex. Choose to use condoms, which lower your chance of getting HPV. Keep in mind that the virus may still pass when skin touches skin not covered by the condom.
- Don’t smoke. Don’t smoke and limit your exposure to second-hand smoke. Exposure to tobacco smoke can increase the risk of cervical cancer in women with HPV.
HPV is so common that it may be hard to avoid it completely in your lifetime. That’s why it’s important to consider these additional guidelines to reduce your risk of cervical cancer:
- If you’ve ever been sexually active, have Pap tests regularly starting at age 25, or 3 years after becoming sexually active, whichever is later.
- Have Pap tests regularly even if you’re vaccinated against HPV since the vaccine doesn’t protect against all types of HPV that can cause cervical cancer.
- Protect yourself from HPV (see above on how to reduce your risk).
To learn more about your risk factors, use our risk calculator. (Link to risk assessment tool)