Cervix Positions Explained
Did you know that your cervix changes position throughout your cycle? If you’re trying to get pregnant, your cervix position during your cycle can give you some very important clues as to how fertile you are. So, get yourself comfortable, and we'll tell you everything you need to know!
What (and where) is your cervix?
First things first. If you’ve never really thought about your cervix before - and many of us haven’t - you might not even know where to find it.
The Latin for cervix is cervix uteri, which translates as “the womb’s neck”. It’s the lowest part of the uterus, and it connects your vagina to your uterus. The cervix looks a little like a donut, or a small fleshy O - it’s round, with a small hole in the middle. It’s usually around an inch or 2.5cm in diameter and - as we’ll soon find out - its location can change depending on where you are in your menstrual cycle.
What does the cervix do?
Your cervix is a hard-working multi-tasker. It secretes mucus that helps sperm cells travel from the vaginal canal to the uterus, and it also lets menstrual blood flow out. If you become pregnant, it even develops a mucus plug, a build-up of mucus that prevents bacteria and infections from reaching your uterus, protecting your baby.
Why does your cervix change positions?
Changes in your cervix position are related to the different phases of your menstrual cycle, as well as hormonal changes, that are, for example, caused by pregnancy.
Tuning into the position and texture of your cervix can help you to better understand where you are in your cycle, which can be useful if you’re tracking your ovulation, trying to conceive, or just want to get to know your body better.
How to check your cervix’s position
Before we delve into the different cervix positions that happen during your cycle, it’s important to know how to find your cervix.
It’s safe to check your cervix at home using just your fingers, although not everyone is able to do so. If you have a long vaginal canal, then you just might not be able to reach it. Similarly, if you’re ovulating, then your cervix will be a little higher than usual. But you never know if you can feel the cervix until you try, so here’s your step-by-step guide to checking your cervix.
- Wash your hands very well. This is super important, as you don’t want to introduce any nasty bacteria. If you have a yeast infection or UTI, you should wait until it clears up before checking your cervix.
- Find a comfortable position. For most people, this is a similar position to how you might insert a tampon, such as sitting on the toilet, squatting, or standing with one leg on the edge of the toilet or bathtub.
- Slide your index or middle finger inside your vagina, as far as you can reach in an upward motion. Aim up and back, in the same direction as you’d put a tampon in.
- Find your cervix! Your vagina should feel soft and spongy, but your cervix is firmer. It should be fairly easy to find your cervix if you’re not ovulating.
- Take note of how it feels. You might want to record the answers to the following questions to help you keep track of your cervix position day to day:
- Does it feel soft or firm? When you’re at your most fertile, it should feel softer. Some people compare the feeling of a soft, fertile cervix to lips, whilst if you’re not ovulating, it might feel more like the hard tip of your nose.
- What position is it in? We’ll come to what the different positions mean in a moment.
- Is it open or closed? Your cervix will open slightly before ovulation, and again during menstruation. Don’t worry if it always feels open. If you’ve given birth or lost a pregnancy, your cervix may never fully close.
It can take a bit of practice to find your cervix. The first few times, you might want to try when you’re not ovulating. It’s easier to find then, and you’ll get a better idea of what you’re looking for.
You should avoid checking your cervix after sex, as it can move depending on your level of sexual arousal, so it won’t give you an accurate picture. It’s best to get into the habit of checking it at the same time every day, using the same position.
Cervix positions during your cycle
So, what are the different positions your cervix moves into throughout your cycle, and what can it tell you?
Cervix position when ovulating
When you’re ovulating, your estrogen levels rise, causing your uterine lining to thicken. This makes your cervix feel softer. It also starts to change position, rising to the top of your vagina.
You may also notice increased amounts of cervical mucus coming from your cervix and vagina during ovulation. This cervical mucus promotes sperm survival and can be a helpful indicator when you’re trying to identify your fertile window. Learn more about tracking cervical mucus with Natural Cycles here.
Cervix position after ovulation
The luteal phase is the second stage of your cycle, coming after ovulation and before your period starts. During this time, your cervix will feel a little harder and your cervical mucus will start to thicken. Rather than being thin and watery, it’ll be stickier and may appear cloudy.
Your cervix will start to move back down, so it may be easier to feel your cervix position before your period.
Cervix position during your period
Your cervix will stay low when your period starts, and will open slightly to let your menstrual blood flow out. It will feel firm to touch at this stage, and will continue to stay hard and low after your period ends.
Cervix position during early pregnancy
If you’re pregnant, your cervix will be high and soft. The opening will stay closed for the duration of your pregnancy, until you’re ready to give birth. When people talk about dilation in the labor room, it’s the cervix they’re referring to - and it can stretch as wide as 4 inches or 10cm for childbirth!
Although you can check your cervix to work out whether you’re ovulating, it’s not a good idea to rely on this to determine whether you’re pregnant. Cervical changes will occur in early pregnancy at different stages for different women, so the best way to confirm pregnancy is with a test. Read our post about the best time to take a pregnancy test to find out more.
Your cervix during late pregnancy
As mentioned, your cervix remains high and closed until it’s nearly time to give birth. Late in the third trimester, your baby starts to drop down, putting pressure on your cervix. This causes it to thin out and dilate, getting ready for delivery.
Your cervix may also start to change position. If you have a posterior cervix, it’ll tilt back towards your bum, whilst an anterior cervix tilts towards your front. For women with posterior tilts, the cervix should start to work towards an anterior position around week 37 or 38 of your pregnancy. This is a sign that your body is getting ready for birth, and it’s one of the things your doctor will keep an eye out for as you approach labor.
Track your cycle
Tracking your fertility by cervix position and cervical mucus alone isn’t always an easy task, but when you get to know your cycle, these can be useful indicators to look out for.
Natural Cycles is the first FDA cleared contraceptive app, and it can help you to find your unique fertile window. Our daily fertility status can be used to plan or prevent pregnancy, and you can even use the app alongside your own insights into your cycle and cervix, to get to know your body even better.