5 Facts About the Cervix
Ever wondered what is the cervix? Where exactly is it? Or, how do I know if my cervix is healthy? Today we’re going to answer those questions and more. Join us as we celebrate all things cervical with our five facts about the cervix...
1. The cervix connects the uterus and the vagina
You might not think about your cervix all that often, but it plays a vital part in our day-to-day reproductive health. The cervix is the narrower part at the entrance of the uterus, and it acts as a bridge between the vagina to the uterus. For example, when we get our periods the menstrual blood must flow through the cervix to get out. All things considered, the cervix can be quite a busy place!
Sperm cells also need to travel through the cervix to reach the female egg cell. And let’s not forget that during childbirth the baby must also travel through the cervix. That impressive birth journey can only happen because of our next cervical-themed fact...
2. The cervix can change shape and position
During childbirth, the cervix does some pretty impressive stretching to allow the baby to pass through it. Amazingly the cervix can stretch to as wide as 10 cm or 4 inches during labor. It can then return to its previous size as soon as a few days after the delivery.
However, changes to the cervix don’t just happen during childbirth. Did you know the cervix changes throughout the menstrual cycle too? Depending on where you are in your cycle, your cervix can actually move. For example, when you are most fertile the cervix is high and soft in texture. When you’re not fertile the cervix tends to be low and hard to the touch.
3. The cervix makes its own type of mucus
The cervix is pretty productive, it doesn’t just sit there idly twiddling it’s thumbs, it also makes a special kind of discharge known as cervical mucus. This discharge affects the way sperm travel through the female reproductive tract. You may have noticed cervical mucus in your underwear or when you wipe after going to the toilet.
Cervical mucus changes throughout the menstrual cycle, and this means it can indicate your fertility. At the start of your cycle there is usually very little or no cervical mucus, the consistency and amount changes as you approach ovulation, and after ovulation in the days before your period, cervical mucus will dry up again. It’s worth knowing that tracking fertility by measuring cervical mucus on its own is difficult, but it can be a useful change to look out for in your cycle.
4. The cervix is plugged during pregnancy
In early pregnancy, the hormone progesterone causes cervical mucus to become thicker and denser, causing the cervix to plug. While the cervix is tightly closed to protect the fetus during pregnancy, this plug offers extra protection and stops anything from entering the cervix.
Before labor begins the cervical plug discharges itself. This may happen weeks or only hours before the delivery. Since all our bodies are different, the mucus plug can look different between individuals. It’s often yellow or brown in color and is thick in consistency. While some may notice the plug being discharged, it's also possible to miss it entirely.
5. The cervix should be looked after
Last but not least, the health of your cervix is so important! Just because it’s tucked away, doesn’t mean it should be ignored. Remember that regular pap smears can help detect any abnormalities early. In fact, 83% of cervical cancer cases could be prevented with a simple smear test.
If you are experiencing pain during sex, there can be several causes of this, including bruising to the cervix. Sex should be enjoyable so if you’re finding intercourse painful, speak to your healthcare professional for advice and treatment.
Getting to know your body better
We hope you learned a thing or two about the quite incredible cervix! Here at Natural Cycles we’re dedicated to increasing knowledge and ending stigma when it comes to reproductive health.
Natural Cycles is the first FDA cleared contraceptive app, not only can the app find your unique fertile window, but it’s also your companion on a longer learning journey as you discover more about your body and your own unique cycle.