Things that can increase your cervical cancer risk

Cervical cancer is cancer that develops in the cervix (the part of the uterus that opens up into the upper part of the vagina). Cervical cancer not only affects your uterus but can affect your rectum, bladder and other parts of your body it spreads to. Cervical cancer is one of the most common forms of cancer in women but understanding what causes cervical cancer could actually help you take the steps you need to reduce your risk of developing it.

Here are a few things which can increase your risk of cervical cancer:

HPV (Human Papillomavirus)

HPV is a sexually transmitted virus that is one of the most common causes of cervical cancer. There are more than 100 different types of HPV, and at least 13 of them can cause cervical cancer.  Having many sexual partners can also increase your risk of HPV and therefore your risk of cervical cancer. The best way to avoid HPV is to use a condom every time you have sex. You should also get screened for it or speak to your healthcare practitioner about getting vaccinated for HPV.


Smoking increases the risk of cervical cancer because it might prevent the body’s immune system from effectively fighting HPV infections. Not only are you at risk of getting cervical cancer from smoking, but you can get other cancers like lung, throat or stomach cancer.

Here’s advice on how to quit smoking.

Weak immune system

When you have a weak immune system, the risk of developing cervical cancer is higher. A weak immune system can be caused by immune suppression medication, treatment for other cancers, organ transplant or HIV.

Age and reproduction

Females that are younger than 15 are rarely at the risk of getting cervical cancer. However, having had a pregnancy young can increase your risk of cervical cancer. Women who were younger than 17 when they had their first full-term pregnancy are almost 2 times more likely to get cervical cancer later in life than women who waited to get pregnant until they were 25 years or older. 

Other contributing factors to cervical cancer include:

  • Poor diet (not eating enough fruits and vegetables)
  • Being overweight
  • Having a family history of cervical cancer

At the end of the day, anyone can get cervical cancer. But certain factors does make more women at risk that others. You might not be able to avoid it entirely but you can take steps to lower your risk. Speak to your healthcare practitioner about what your chances of riskare based on your lifestyle. Also remember to take care of yourself through a healthy lifestyle and by having safe sex every time. 

Remember, if you or a friend need advice or help, you can contact me here on Ask Choma, send me a Facebook Message, a Twitter DM, or a WhatsApp Message (071 172 3657).