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Can having intercourse at an early age cause cervical cancer?

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Dear Doc,

My friend died of cervical cancer at age 24. Many said that it is because she had intercourse with many men and from a young age. Is there any truth to what they are saying?{{more}}

Diane

Dear Diane,

Sorry to hear of the passing of your friend. There are factors that link early age of intercourse and multiple partners to development of cervical cancer.

A woman who starts having intercourse at a very young age would have earlier exposure to the HPV and thus have a longer period during which the virus can trigger cervical cancer. The same can be said about a woman who has been having intercourse with multiple men. With multiple partners, it increases the chances of being infected with one of the more dreaded strains of HPV (16, 18 & 32).

Pap smears must be started from three years from the first instance of sexual intercourse or from age eighteen or which comes first. In both cases, the pap-smear would give a good indication of any early abnormal changes that can lead to cervical cancer.

Some girls have sexual intercourse early in their teens, but might not get their first pap-smear as recommended, because they rather hide the fact that they are sexually active from a young age. Parents have to use their initiative in introducing their teenager to their gynaecologist at an early age to be assured that they will be comfortable with the concept of early pap-smears.

Doc

SVG Cancer Society,
P.O. Box 709, Kingstown.
Email:[email protected]
Phone: 526-7036

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