The Medical Tests You Should Schedule ASAP, Based On Your Age

HPV (human papillomavirus) is the MOST common STI in the United States: More than half of all sexually active people are believed to contract it at some point in their lives, according to the National Cancer Institute. Most of the time, the HPV will go away naturally on its own within about two years. But some strains of HPV don't go away so easily for some people, and a few really bad ones can cause cancer.

If a pap smear and colposcopy reveal that you have pre-cancerous cells on your cervix, your doctor might need to perform a procedure meant to cut those cells out.

Some of those procedures, such as LEEP biopsies, cone biopsies, and cryotherapy, can pose a small risk of harming your fertility , Pal says. There's a risk that the biopsy might change your cervix in a way that you no longer produce enough cervical mucus — which can make it harder for the sperm to get to where they need to go. In other cases, where the biopsy cut is especially large, it could compromise your cervical integrity, upping your risk of miscarriage once you do get pregnant. It's also worth noting that if you actually end up developing cervical cancer (rather than just pre-cancer), certain treatments for that can also pose a risk to your fertility.

All that being said: Absolutely do not freak out if you've had these procedures or have been advised to get them done. There are definitely things that your doctor can do to help improve your chances of getting pregnant down the line, and there's a simple procedure that can help you carry your baby to term if you have trouble with cervical integrity. More on that in section three.

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