Almost all cases of cervical cancer are caused by persistent high risk HPV. HPV is a very common infection that four out of five sexually active adults will come into contact with in their lives, without any symptoms. This is why it is so important to attend your regular cervical screening.

See our section on HPV

Cervical cancer is not caused by promiscuity or infidelity, however, it makes sense that the more sexual partners you have and the younger you are when you have your first sexual encounter, the more likely you are to come into contact with the more dangerous types of HPV these are called high risk types. Whilst these factors are considered to increase your risk of developing cervical cancer, many women who have only had one sexual partner in their lifetime become infected with high risk HPV and may go on to develop abnormal cell changes/CIN or cervical cancer.

Similarly, as with most cancers, smoking can also pose an increased risk. Smoking stops your body’s immune system from working properly, leaving you more likely to get infections and therefore can cause abnormalities in the cells of the cervix.

Other risk factors involved with cervical cancer:

  • Weakened immune system
  • Having children at a very young age
  • Giving birth to many children
  • If your mother was given DES (infertility drug) when pregnant with you
  • Long term use of the contraceptive pill (more than 10 years) can slightly increase the risk of developing cervical cancer but the benefits of the pill outweigh the risks for most women.

"Causes of Cervical Cancer." Jo's Cervical Cancer Trust. N.p., 19 Aug. 2013. Web. 02 Mar. 2015.