Preventing Cervical Dysplasia

Women can minimize risk for cervical dysplasia and reduce the chances of developing cancer by taking these preventative measures:

  • Pap smear—A Pap smear screens for changes in cervical tissue. Identifying dysplasia early may prevent it from developing into cervical cancer.
  • Avoid high-risk sexual behavior—Practicing monogamy or limiting the number of sexual partners decreases exposure to STDs, as does consistent use of condoms or other barrier methods. Sexual contact can transmit the HPV virus and condoms do not offer full protection against the virus. While HPV may cause genital warts, it often remains asymptomatic and undetected.
  • Smoking cessation—Cigarette smoking is associated with changes in cervical cells.
  • Nutrition—The National Cancer Institute recommends that women consume 5 servings of fresh vegetables and fruits each day. Nutrients including beta carotene, folic acid, vitamin A, and vitamin C may protect against cervical dysplasia. Some experts recommend taking a multivitamin to ensure adequate intake of these vitamins.
  • Cervical cancer vaccine (e.g., Gardasil, Cervarix)—These vaccines are approved for use in girls and women between the ages of 9 and 26 (Gardasil) and 10 and 25 (Cervarix) to prevent certain types of HPV that can cause cervical dysplasia and increase the risk for cervical cancer.

Publication Review By: Stanley J. Swierzewski, III, M.D.

Published: 30 Sep 2001

Last Modified: 03 Sep 2015