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5 Things Every Woman Should Know About Her Cervix

Medical Health

The cervix, all women are born with one but few of us know what it is or what it does—so let’s talk about it! Today we’ll cover the top five things every woman should know about her cervix to stay knowledgeable about what cervical health looks like and how we can keep it functioning well.

  1.   What Is The Cervix?

The cervix is an organ, just like the heart or liver, and connects the vagina and uterus with its muscular make up. When thinking anatomically, it looks like a small donut with a center that’s able to open and close. When it's closed, the center looks like a tiny dimple, but it opens during ovulation to allow sperm to enter the uterus.

The cervix functions as a gate or passageway, allowing fluid exchange between the vagina and uterus and making childbirth possible.Like any other body part, the cervix is essential to maintaining excellent overall health.

  1. The Cervix Changes Shape and Moves

During your menstrual cycle, your cervix may change position. While you won’t feel it move, your cervix will sit higher/pull backward, deeper in your vagina during your fertile window. You may also notice that your cervix becomes softer in texture. 

When you’re outside of your fertile window, your cervix will be lower in your vagina and hard to the touch. These movements may affect how sex feels.

During childbirth, the cervix also changes significantly, stretching to impressive lengths to allow a baby to pass through it. Before labor, your cervix is typically about 0.3 inches but can stretch to 4 inches (10cm) during delivery.

  1.   Things Can Get Sticky Down There

We’re talking about cervical mucus! Vaginal discharge is the fluid produced by and released from the cervix and is essential for getting pregnant. Because cervical mucus is created in part due to changes in your hormones, it changes in color, texture, and volume throughout the month and can signal when you are most fertile. For instance, right before ovulation, cervical mucus is dry, thick, and white but it turns clear and slippery when ovulation starts. Slippery mucus makes it easier for sperm to swim up toward an egg during ovulation, so if you’re trying to get pregnant, try to have sex when you notice clear, slippery mucus.

  1.   Preventative Care Can Detect Cervical Cancer Early

Because you don’t see it all the time, it’s easy to forget about the cervix, but cervical care can help your overall health or even save your life. Having regular gynecological visits are essential—it’s recommended that girls between 13 and 15 should start seeing a women’s health specialist and women between 21 and 29 should get a pap smear every three years if all results are normal. During a pap smear, your doctor will take a sample of the cells in your cervix to look for cell changes or abnormalities. These changes can indicate the presence of human papilloma virus (HPV) which is a sexually transmitted infection that can lead to cervical cancer. In fact, almost all cervical cancer cases (99%) are linked to infection with high-risk HPV.

Cervical cancer is the fourth most common cancer in women globally, according to the World Health Organization, but it’s also one of the most successfully treatable forms of cancer. However, routine pap smears and HPV vaccinations can help prevent most cervical cancer cases.

  1.  The Cervix Acts As A Seal

During early pregnancy, a build up of mucus called a cervical mucus plug forms in the cervical canal. This protects the womb and baby by preventing bacteria and viruses from entering the uterus and reaching the baby. During the early stages of labor, as your cervix opens up, the mucus plug is slowly released. You may notice this happening or you might miss it altogether.

Since all our bodies are different, the mucus plug can look different between individuals; for some women, it’s yellow or brown in color and is a thick consistency.

We recommend finding a gynecologist if you don’t have one already and scheduling your next pap smear and well woman exam! If you don’t have a provider yet, click the button below to schedule a well woman exam with the healthcare providers at The Source or they can connect you with a provider in your area.

Written by:
Davina Adcock

Davina is a native of Grenada and a graduate of The University of Texas at Austin. She's a content specialist with a passion for empowering women to thrive and reach their full potential. In her free time, Davina is probably painting, reading, or baking something unnecessarily sweet.

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