Cervical cancer was once one of the most common and deadliest cancers in the United States, but the incidence and death rates from cervical cancer have dropped with advancements in cervical screening procedures. Regular testing allows doctors to identify cervical cancer or precancerous conditions before they become severe.

Still, cervical cancer can be a serious condition. Estimates suggest around 14,480 new cases of cervical cancer in the United States, and about 4,290 deaths from cervical cancer. The symptoms and complications of cervical cancer can vary, but one of the most common concerns is fertility and pregnancy. Read on to learn more about pregnancy and cervical cancer.

What Is Cervical Cancer?

Cervical cancer is a form of cancer that begins in the cells of the cervix. The cervix connects the uterus to the vagina. The uterus is where a developing fetus grows, while the vagina is the birth canal. As with other parts of the body, the cervix contains various cells that grow and die at a regular rate. However, when those cells begin to grow out of control, they are considered cancerous. Cancerous growths can cut off nutrients to healthy cells and tissues or prevent organs from functioning properly, resulting in a variety of issues. Cancerous cells can also potentially break off and travel to other parts of the body, which is known as metastasis.

Most forms of cervical cancer begin in the transformation zone, the area where the endocervix meets the ectocervix. While there are several forms of cervical cancer (categorized based on the type of cell that is affected), about nine out of ten cases of cervical cancer are squamous cell carcinomas. This type of cancer affects the cells that form the lining of the cervix.

Outside of squamous cell carcinomas, almost all other cases of cervical cancer are adenocarcinomas. This type of cancer develops in the glandular cells of the cervix. These cells are responsible for producing mucus and other fluids within the cervix. Less common cancers include adenosquamous carcinomas or mixed carcinomas, which affect both glandular cells and cells lining the cervix.

Cervical cancer can sometimes be confused with uterine cancer. So, if you think you’re experiencing either of these cancer types, it’s important to know the difference between cervical cancer vs uterine cancer.

Causes of Cervical Cancer

Much like other forms of cancer, the exact cause of cervical cancer is not well known yet. Most research suggests that cancer may be caused by genetic mutations that contribute to the uncontrolled growth of certain cells.

There is a wealth of evidence to suggest a link between human papillomavirus (HPV) and cervical cancer. That’s not to say that every case of HPV will develop into cervical cancer. HPV is the most common sexually transmitted infection in the world, enough that most people who are sexually active will get HPV at some point in their lives, but most cases of HPV come with zero symptoms and clear up on their own.

This also means that HPV alone will not cause cervical cancer. Plenty of people with HPV never develop cervical cancer, but it can still pose an increased risk. This is also why screening procedures typically look for HPV infections as a means of determining your risk of cervical cancer.

Symptoms of Cervical Cancer

Part of what makes cervical cancer so difficult to detect is that it typically does not present any noticeable symptoms in its early or pre-cancerous stages. Symptoms usually do not appear until the cancerous cells have formed a significant growth or otherwise grown into nearby tissues or organs.

When cervical cancer does present signs and symptoms, the most common symptoms include:

  • Abnormal vaginal bleeding, including after sex, between periods, or after menopause
  • Longer or heavier periods
  • Unusual vaginal discharge that may contain blood
  • Painful sex
  • General pain or discomfort in the pelvis

In its more advanced stages, cervical cancer may cause:

  • Blood in your urine
  • Swelling in your legs
  • General problems with bowel movements and urination

These are issues that can be caused by health conditions outside of cervical cancer, which is why a proper diagnosis is so important.

Pregnancy and Cervical Cancer

As cervical cancer occurs within the reproductive system, it’s normal to wonder if and how the cancer might affect your fertility and ability to get pregnant. Can you get pregnant if you have cervical cancer? The answer largely depends on the form of treatment that you get, which is dictated by the severity and extent of the cancer.

Surgery is one of the most common and effective forms of treatment for cervical cancer, but surgery itself comes in different forms. Many surgical procedures leave your reproductive structures intact, allowing you to get pregnant in the future. For smaller cancers, your doctor may be able to simply remove the growth via biopsy. A trachelectomy involves the removal of the cervix and some surrounding tissue, but the uterus is relatively untouched, allowing you to get pregnant.

A hysterectomy will make it impossible for you to get pregnant. This surgical procedure involves the removal of the cervix, uterus, nearby lymph nodes, and part of the vagina. The uterus is necessary for carrying a fertilized egg and developing fetus. Without a uterus, you would not be able to get pregnant.

Other common treatments include radiation therapy and chemotherapy. Chemotherapy uses medicine that is designed to kill cancer cells. This can be administered intravenously or via a pill (sometimes both).

Radiation therapy uses high-powered radiation to kill cancer cells. If you want to get pregnant in the future, your doctor may recommend harvesting and preserving your eggs prior to treatment. While you may still be able to get pregnant, radiation therapy can potentially trigger an early menopause, which marks an end to your ability to bear children naturally. Radiation therapy can ultimately affect your womb and prevent your ovaries from working properly.

Early Detection of Cervical Cancer

The good news is that most forms of cervical cancer can be detected early, before the cancer has spread to other structures or reproductive organs. The earlier the cancer is detected, the more effective the treatment. Early detection also potentially means less damage to the uterus during treatment. So be sure to get a cervical cancer screening as early as possible with the first sign or system of this cancer type.

Early detection for cervical cancer involves regular screening tests, which include the HPV test and Pap test. These two tests can be performed in the same exam or separately. The HPV test specifically detects the presence of HPV in the cells of your cervix. As mentioned, HPV can potentially contribute to abnormal cell growth resulting in cervical cancer. Pap tests check your cervix specifically for abnormal cells that could point to cancer. 

Most women and people with cervixes should get a Pap test every three years or an HPV test and Pap test together every five years. This is particularly recommended for people with cervixes who are between the ages of 30 and 65.

Cervical cancer can present with various issues, and it can potentially affect your ability to get pregnant. This can come both from the cancer itself and the treatment. You can still potentially get pregnant after cervical cancer, but early detection is important to ensure your chances. As with many other cancer types, early stage cervical cancer detection can possibly mean a more successful chance of cervical cancer treatment. Be sure to get any cervical cancer screening needed early on to detect any cancerous cervical cells or abnormalities accompanied by the cancer. 

If you have cervical cancer, talk to your doctor about your treatment options and their potential effects on your fertility. You can also visit the Immunity Therapy Center for more cervical cancer treatment options. 



  1. Cancer.org. Key Statistics for Cervical Cancer. https://www.cancer.org/cancer/cervical-cancer/about/key-statistics.html
  2. Cancer.org. What Is Cervical Cancer? https://www.cancer.org/cancer/cervical-cancer/about/what-is-cervical-cancer.html
  3. Cancer.org. Signs and Symptoms of Cervical Cancer. https://www.cancer.org/cancer/cervical-cancer/detection-diagnosis-staging/signs-symptoms.html
  4. Planner Parenthood. Human Papillomavirus (HPV). https://www.plannedparenthood.org/learn/stds-hiv-safer-sex/hpv
  5. Cancer.org. Signs and Symptoms of Cervical Cancer. https://www.cancer.org/cancer/cervical-cancer/detection-diagnosis-staging/signs-symptoms.html
  6. Office on Woman’s Health. Pap and HPV tests. https://www.womenshealth.gov/a-z-topics/pap-hpv-tests 
October 15, 2021

Dr. Carlos Bautista is a Board Certified Medical Doctor. He received his Medical Degree from Universidad Autónoma de Baja California and has more than 20 years of experience working with Alternative Medicine to treat cancer, autoimmune diseases, chronic degenerative diseases, and infectious diseases. He opened Immunity Therapy Center in 2007 with the goal of providing the highest quality medical care for more than 5,000 patients.

At Immunity Therapy Center, our goal is to provide objective, updated, and research-based information on all health-related topics. This article is based on scientific research and/or other scientific articles. All information has been fact-checked and reviewed by Dr. Carlos Bautista, a Board Certified Medical Doctor at Immunity Therapy Center. All information published on the site must undergo an extensive review process to ensure accuracy. This article contains trusted sources with all references hyperlinked for the reader's visibility.