Cervical Cancer Awareness Month: Can you get pregnant after recovery? | Health

Cervical Cancer Awareness Month 2022: Cervical cancer is a type of cancer that begins in the cervix – the lower part of the uterus that connects to the vagina. It is caused by various strains of HPV (human papillomavirus), a sexually transmitted infection. While majority of people who are exposed to it are able to evade the infection, in a very few the virus is able to survive and cause some cervical cells to turn cancerous.

The fourth most common cancer among women worldwide, the awareness about it among both young girls and boys for its prevention is the need of the hour considering it doesn’t discriminate between men and women. The most important thing you can do to help prevent cervical cancer is to get vaccinated early and have regular screening tests.

In India, cervical cancer contributes to 6-29% of all cancers in women and accounts for 24% of all cervical cancer cases worldwide. As per WHO statistics, 45,300 Indian women died of cervical cancer in 2019. Considering the cancer is very much preventable – one can even get vaccinated for it and reduce the chance of getting it significantly and treatable if detected at early stages, the lack of awareness about the disease is disheartening.

ALSO READ: Cervical cancer: 6 lifestyle changes to prevent the disease

“The major reasons for cervical cancer are early age of sexual intercourse, multiple sexual partners, unprotected intercourse, smoking, socioeconomic factors, and Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) infection,” says Dr Sonal Kumta, Senior Consultant-Obstetrician & Gynecologist, Fortis Hospital, Mulund.

“There are more than 100 different strains of HPV that induce cervical cancer. The most oncogenic strain is HPV16 and HPV 18 which is more likely to be found in the central part of India,” she adds.

Can one get pregnant after battling cervical cancer?

Regular screening and early detection are the key to fight cervical cancer. If diagnosed at early stage, those who wish to start their family post recovery have high chances of conceiving. Even for those who are struggling with advanced stages of cervical cancer, all hope is not lost.

“Our ability to achieve pregnancy will depend on the treatment you take for cancer. Yes, you have heard it right! If cervical cancer is diagnosed at an early stage, then one will be able to preserve fertility,” says Dr Akash Surana, Fertility Consultant, NOVA IVF, Vashi Mumbai.

Thanks to the modern technology, many women who undergo hysterectomy during their cervical cancer treatment where the uterus and cervix of the patient is removed can still fulfill their dream of motherhood through assisted reproductive technology (ART).

In this fertility treatment, the eggs of the women are removed and combined with a man’s sperm to make embryos.

“If you are required to undergo a hysterectomy or radiation therapy then these treatments can take a toll on your fertility. During a hysterectomy, the uterus and cervix are removed. Thus, you can speak to the doctor regarding assisted reproductive technology (ARTs),” says Dr Surana.

Women who wish to preserve their fertility can also opt for trachelectomy, in which cervix, upper vagina and parametrium (tissue surrounding the cervix) are removed to treat early-stage cervical cancer in women.

“A radical trachelectomy is done when one has cervical cancer wherein the entire cervix or tissue next to the cervix will be removed by the doctor. But, a woman can still become pregnant after this procedure as the uterus is still in place. This procedure needs to be done by an expert only,” says the expert.

In case of advanced cervical cancer patients who require radical surgery or chemotherapy-radiation, a child can be planned by freezing eggs.

“Patients who wish to start their family and are still undergoing treatment for cancer, can now opt for fertility preservation with newer techniques like oocyte freezing and or oocyte tissue cryopreservation. In advanced cervical cancer patients who require radical surgery/chemo-radiation which is known to cause irreversible damage to gonads, this technique is very useful for fertility preservation,” says Dr Surana.

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