7 Important Things You Need to Know About Your Cervix!
Unseen and overlooked. If you are unaware of your cervix, don’t worry – you are not the only one! Most women tend to focus on the main stars of the show when it comes to menstruation and pregnancy – the uterus and the vagina.
But the cervix is the gateway to the womb and plays a crucial role in your reproductive health. From menstruation to pregnancy and menopause, the cervix keeps everything running smoothly there!
Let’s take a deep dive into some fascinating facts about the cervix and its functions!
In this article, we will discuss the important things you need to know about your cervix :
- What is the cervix, and where can it be found?
- Why is the cervix a vital part of a woman’s body?
- How does your cervix change with age?
- How can you examine your cervix?
- Why can your cervix be hard to find?
- What do you feel when you check your cervix?
- Can your cervix get hurt?
1. What Is the Cervix, and Where Can It Be Found?
The cervix is often an afterthought because it is a natural extension of the womb. It makes up the lower one-third of the uterus, which is then connected to the vagina. The cervix is only 2-3 cms long, with a cylindrical shape and was earlier called the “neck of the uterus.”
2. The Gatekeeper! Why Is the Cervix a Vital Part of a Woman’s Body?
As the gatekeeper of the uterus, the cervix allows sperm in for fertilization after sex but just as easily allows menstrual blood to exit the uterus during monthly cycles. According to a recent study, the cervix may be doing more for your sex life than you may know! It is possible for some women to orgasm just from gentle cervical stimulation, while others enjoy more intense orgasms when the clitoris and cervix are both stimulated.
In early pregnancy, the release of progesterone hormone makes the cervical mucus thick and dense. This forms a yellowish-brown tight mucous plug that keeps the opening closed to protect the baby and is only discharged weeks or even hours before labour.
3. Mature and Mellow! How Does Your Cervix Change with Age?
Many women complain about vaginal dryness when they enter the stage of menopause. This happens because the levels of oestrogen and progesterone decrease in the body as you age. With these fluctuating levels, the cervix can’t produce as much mucous, and the vagina feels dry.
4. Self-Check for the Win! How Can You Examine Your Cervix?
It is natural to be curious about your body. The uterus, vagina, and cervix can be especially fascinating for women! They go through so many changes at different life stages, from menstruation to pregnancy and menopause.
While you can check and feel your cervix by simply inserting a finger into your vaginal canal, it should be done carefully so that you don’t bruise the surrounding tissues and prevent infections.
Here are a few tips to check your cervix as safely as possible:
- Begin with clean, washed hands. Avoid putting lotion on your fingers to ensure you don’t irritate or infect the vaginal canal.
- Remove rings and make sure your nails are cut short. Any sharp edges may hurt the surrounding tissues during a cervical check.
- Settle yourself into a comfortable position. For example, many women check their cervix in the bathroom, either sitting on the toilet or standing with one leg up.
- Separate the folds of your labia and insert the middle or pointer finger of your hand, usually your dominant one, into the vagina.
- The walls of the vagina will feel smooth and soft compared to the cervix, which feels firmer, like the tip of your nose.
5. Tricky to Track! Why Can Your Cervix Be Hard to Find?
Did you know that many women have difficulty locating their cervix when they do a self-examination? A recent study showed that only 44 % of women could correctly identify the cervix. Isn’t this surprising? After all, where could it go?
The answer boils down to simple anatomy. In most women, the cervix extends past the opening of the uterus and tilts forward towards the belly button. But if you have a tilted uterus, the cervix is positioned so that it leans backwards, making it more challenging to see, even when a doctor examines it using a speculum. They may advise you to place your hands under your hips and tilt your pelvis forward to see the cervix better.
6. Proceed with Caution! What Do You Feel When You Check Your Cervix?
Polyps are small masses of tissue that have a narrow stalk attaching them to the cervix. They tend to bleed when touched, especially during sex. In addition, some women have small, benign bumps on the surface of the cervix called nabothian cysts, filled with mucous that usually and resolve on their own.
You should inform your doctor about any pain felt when touching or moving your cervix, as pelvic pain can be one of the first signs of cervical cancer or infections like cervicitis.
A pap smear is used to diagnose cervical cancer. Cells are scraped from the cervicalx’s opening and analyzed under a microscope to look for early signs of cancer. It is used to screen for cervical cancer and HPVHPC (human papillomavirus infections). Other signs to look out for are:
- Yellow, white or grey vaginal discharge that has an unpleasant odour.
- Unexpected vaginal bleeding.
- Irritation in the vagina or vulva
How Does Your Cervix Change During Pregnancy?
It may be tempting to check the cervix to figure out your fertility window if you are trying to conceive. During ovulation, due to hormonal changes, the cervix feels softer than usual, and the mucous is thinner, taking on an egg-white consistency. During ovulation and after conception, the cervix moves higher up in the vaginal canal, which is found to be lower just before your period.
Even though the changes to the cervix happen during every menstrual cycle, they are tough for many women to detect. So it may not be the most reliable method to find out if you are ovulating or pregnant.
When Should You Avoid Doing a Self-Examination?
If you are pregnant, you should not do cervical checks on your own. Your doctor may carefully perform these examinations throughout your pregnancy. In some women, it may increase the chances of bleeding or infection.
7. Injured and Impaired! Can Your Cervix Get Bruised?
Some women get injured during sexual intercourse or vaginal penetration during repeated medical exams resulting in a bruised cervix. A bruised cervix is painful while it lasts but usually doesn’t require any treatment as it improves on its own after a few days. A bruised cervix can also be felt as lower back pain and nausea, while some may experience mild bleeding or spotting.
You should rule out other causes of lower back and abdominal pain, like sexually transmitted diseases, urinary tract infections, and recent insertion of an intrauterine device which could also cause similar symptoms. It is advisable to avoid sex till the cervix heals completely. However, if you notice new or increased vaginal discharge and bleeding, or if the pain worsens, you should consult your physician.
As tempting as it might be to consult Dr Google, resist the urge and visit your doctor to get a medical examination done and get to the root cause of the issue.
Do you get up close and personal with your cervix?
you may often miss the many functions of the cervix, but it does play an important role at several stages in your reproductive health. So, you should watch for warning signs and get screened regularly for cervical cancer to keep this small but mighty organ happy and healthy!