Is it possible to get cervical cancer if you've never had vaginal intercourse?

Answers from Mary M. Gallenberg, M.D.

Yes, it is possible. Although most cervical cancers are caused by human papillomavirus (HPV) — a common sexually transmitted infection — some are not. Also, vaginal intercourse isn't the only way to get HPV. HPV can also be transmitted during any type of sexual contact, including anal sex and oral sex.

Factors that may increase your risk of cervical cancer include:

  • Smoking
  • A weakened immune system caused by HIV infection or certain immune-suppressing medications
  • Having multiple sexual partners
  • Long-term use of birth control pills
  • Giving birth many times
  • Being born to a woman who was given diethylstilbestrol during pregnancy
  • Lack of routine Pap testing

Routine Pap tests can detect precancerous abnormalities. Pap tests can also catch cervical cancer in its earliest stages. Ask your doctor how often you should undergo Pap testing.

May. 23, 2009 See more Expert Answers