HAVE YOU FELT YOUR CERVIX?
4 MIN READ
Jocelyn Clark is a women's health nurse who knows what's up – down there. She's starting a conversation over at Talking V's, destigmatising women's health, one vagina at a time. Think, all the things no-one talks about, but you wish you could just ask.
Here, Jocelyn gives us the 411 on the cervix – your cervix. Where to find it, how to find it, and what you should know about it.
In my 25 years of having a vagina I have only ever been to the gynaecologist twice. And from what I have gathered from close girlfriends, that's two more times than many of the women around me.
"HEY, SO HAVE YOU FELT YOUR CERVIX?"
Until my gynaecologist casually dropped it into conversation at my last appointment a few weeks ago, I'd never given my cervix much thought. I mean, why would I?
But it wasn't so much a question as an assumed statement. I'm a women's health nurse – I'm so in touch with my body. Except apparently I wasn't.
Call it pride, call it curiosity, but as soon as I got home I found myself standing in the bathroom, bent over with one foot on the bathtub, finger ready to dive in, thinking to myself, "how far until I hit it?".
HOW TO FIND YOUR CERVIX
My doc had described it as feeling "like the end of your nose". It's a donut-shaped hole that connects your vagina to your uterus – it's soft and hard at the same time.
Give your hands a good wash so as to not introduce any nasties to your good place.
Position yourself. Some women find it most comfortable to check their cervix after a warm bath or shower. You can do it with one leg up, or maybe lying down with your legs bent up. You can try a few different positions – really it's what you're most comfortable with.
Place one finger into your vagina, as if you were inserting a tampon. You can expect most of your finger to disappear into your vagina.
You should find your cervix at the top of the canal – you'll know it when your finger cannot got any further, and you feel a small bulbous circle.
If you've never had a baby vaginally, the circle will have a dimple in the middle. If you have, it'll feel more like a slit. This dimple in the middle is the os – a small opening within the cervix that allows passage from your vagina to your uterus, or vice versa (hint: childbirth).
GET TO KNOW YOUR CERVIX
Your cervix will change how it feels and its position depending on where you are at in your menstrual cycle.
After ovulation your cervix will sit low and it may feel hard (as mine did), closing the passage to the uterus, meaning there's no chance of sperm entering.
Leading up to and during ovulation your cervix will feel soft – often described like two lips – and perhaps indistinguishable as it sits high and close to the uterus. In this case, your cervix has opened. This means you're ovulating and the gates are open for baby-making.
During this time you may also notice it is wet. Ever noticed your discharge changes during your cycle? This discharge is created by your cervix, and allows and encourages sperm to access your uterus.
A sIMPLE GUIDE TO CERVICAL DISCHARGE
At the beginning of your cycle, cervical mucus is thick and often cloudy – you might not have a lot of it. This mucus actually helps to block sperm from travelling.
When you're ovulating your oestrogen rises, which changes the mucus to thin, clear and stretchy (like egg whites) and you might have more of it. This discharge helps sperm swim upstream to the cervix and uterus.
NOW, TAKE CARE OF YOU
Being "in touch" with your cervix can be an empowering way of knowing and understanding the functions of your body better, and an important tool in preventing or promoting pregnancy. Also, I believe a better understanding your cervix will encourage you to look after it properly.
Don't put off your pap tests, and ask your doctor about getting a HPV vaccine.
Talking V's, at your cervix!
The full post originally appeared on Talking V's, and has been edited and republished here with full permission.
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Written by Jocelyn Clark