The cervix is attached to the lower part of a woman's uterus. With a tiny opening, the cervix is the gatekeeper of a woman's uterus, as the cervical opening allows menstrual fluids to be released from the uterus, while conversely allowing semen to enter into the uterus to fertilize an egg. Recent health discoveries are finding new potentially serious causes for various cervical diseases; however, with continued annual checkups and healthy practices, a woman's cervical health can be maintained, while many cervical diseases can be treated.
The Anatomy of the Cervix
While the cervix controls what fluids go in and out of the uterus, the cervix is also responsible for allowing the passage of a fetus to enter into the vagina during the birth process. As a fetus grows and develops in a woman's womb, the cervix remains closed to protect the fetus and keep all of the uterine nutrients inside its chamber. When the body is ready to deliver the baby, however, the cervix gradually begins to dilate / expand. As the cervix expands and widens, the woman's water “breaks,” resulting in the cervix's release of amniotic fluid from the uterus. Following this, the cervix continues to dilate to eventually allow for the baby to travel from the uterus, through the vagina, to ultimately reach the exterior world.
The cervix is covered by a thin layer of cells, called epithelium. These cells, which are also called glandular cells, are either squamous or columnar. Squamous cells are flat, while conlunar cells are shaped in longer oval / rectangular patterns. The consistency of the cervix's cellular health must be annually evaluated to ensure that a woman is not experiencing any potentially life-threatening diseases. Specifically, one of the leading causes of cervical dangers is cancer. As abnormal cell growths can lead to cervical cancer, which can result in infertility or even death, the health of the cervix must be seriously acknowledged. For an annual cervical exam, women can simply schedule an appointment with their OBGYN to undergo a pap-smear. A pap-smear essentially swipes cells from the cervix, allowing lab experts to identify and examine the health of these cervical cells. While most abnormal pap-smear results are typically due to minor issues, such as inflammation or a non-serious infection, women should still be sure to follow their annual checkup schedule.
Preventing Cervical Disease
While some cervical issues may be caused by biological, genetic, or environmental factors, the more serious cervical threats, such as cervical cancer, can be prevented with smart choices. According to current reports, the leading cause of cervical cancer is due to a sexually transmitted disease known as HPV. As HPV typically does not produce any symptoms, this disease can begin to stimulate the growth of abnormal cells in the cervix, which can lead, if undetected, to an array of serious implications and problems. With regular checkups and safe sex practices, however, the risks of HPV and cervical cancer are significantly diminished!