It’s 10:00 PM: Do you know where your cervix is?
If you don’t, you’re part of the 64% of women who can’t point out their own cervix. The female reproductive system is a mystery to most people. Apparently many believe it’s like a black hole universe up in there, and the poor cervix is even more of a mystery to most. But while the cervix might not be the star of the pelvic show, we happen to think it’s quite special and worth getting to know, especially if you want to have better orgasms.
Now that we have your attention, getting to know your cervix is an important tool for self-knowledge and good health. Establishing what is normal for your cervix can help you notice when unusual changes occur. And did we mention better orgasms?
What is the Cervix?
Comprised of the lowest, most narrow region of your uterus, the cervix is the gateway between the uterus and the vagina, and plays a key role in childbirth, sex, pregnancy, and periods.
Like any other body part, the size and shape of a cervix varies from person to person. It’s usually around one inch long and roughly cylindrical, tapering down to a tiny opening called the cervical os. When viewed through the vaginal opening, the base of the cervix is shaped like a donut- yum!
What Does the Cervix Do?
Imagine your reproductive system’s equivalent of Heidi Klum on Project Runway, deciding who stays and goes: with your cervix, you’re either in, or you’re out. The cervix is a gatekeeper between your vaginal canal and the uterus.
When you aren’t pregnant, your cervix produces vaginal discharge, which clogs up the cervical os so that it is difficult for sperm to get through. During ovulation, your discharge will be much thinner and the os may open slightly, making it easier for sperm to travel upwards. During your period, the cervix will open enough slightly to blood come down from the uterus, and when you are pregnant, the cervix may open slightly all the time, and dilates up to 10 cm during childbirth, roughly the diameter of a bagel.
The cervix is a barrier to the rest of your abdomen, so if you are worried about a menstrual cup, disc, tampon, or your misplaced car keys disappearing inside of you, it’s all likely to be within a finger’s reach. Therefore, there is no black hole inside your body where things can get lost.
How to Find Your Cervix
Speaking of within a finger’s reach, most people can feel their cervix by reaching into the vaginal canal until they feel a fleshy nub:
- Wash your hands (and fingernails).
- Stand up. Laying down shifts your cervical position. If it helps, you can pop a squat or lift a leg up on the tub or toilet, similar to how you might already insert a menstrual cup, disc, or tampon.
- With your palm facing up, reach your longest finger in until you feel a round, raised circle with a dimple in the middle. It might feel like the tip of your nose.
- Your cervix is more likely to be towards the front (belly button) side of your body, but each body is different so don’t sweat if it’s not. Your cervix might be very high up in your vagina or low and easy to reach, depending on various factors, including where you are in your cycle as well as your anatomy.
It’s a good idea to get familiar with how your cervix typically feels throughout the month, as it will change depending on where you are in your cycle. This is useful for keeping an eye on your cervical health, and will help you become more in-tune with your body. It can also come in handy if you ever try to get pregnant and want to figure out when you’re ovulating.
Your Menstrual Cycle & The Cervix
During your period, the cervix comes down lower into the vagina, opening slightly so that period blood can come down. After your period ends, it will usually stay low in the vagina until ovulation, at which point your cervix will higher up into your vagina and feel softer. Once ovulation ends, the cervix drops back down again.
Sex and the Cervix
When you get aroused, your vagina will elongate, pulling the cervix further away from the vaginal opening. For some, the cervix, like the vagina and clitoris, responds well to stimulation and can even be a focal point for sex and foreplay. Many people report that cervical penetration can lead to stupendous “c-spot” orgasms that can be felt throughout the body. [The term is a misnomer, since you’re not penetrating the tiny cervix opening, just stimulating it.] However, cervical stimulation isn’t everyone’s bag, but if you haven’t tried it yet, you may have just discovered something fun to add to your pleasure toolkit.
Conversely, depending on where your cervix sits, you may have noticed that certain positions or rough sex can feel like you’ve gone too deep, or even like you’ve been punched in the guts. It is possible to hit your cervix during sex, particularly if you’re in a position that tilts your pelvis down, like doggy style.
While it is unlikely that stimulation or sex will actually bruise your cervix, hitting it can either feel awesome for you or very painful, and yes, it can even cause bleeding or bruising of the delicate cervical tissue. Occasional spotting after rough sex isn’t necessarily a cause for concern, but regular bleeding could be a sign that something else is going on.
Learning what is typical for your body is the first step in making sure your cervix stays healthy. Like a breast self-exam, regular self check-ins with your cervix can be the first step in noticing changes, such as atypical bleeding or pain, that could be a sign of an infection, STI or cancer.
Getting regular Pap smears is essential for monitoring your cervical health. Cancer of the cervix is mostly caused by certain strains of HPV, the most common STI, and nearly half of the population has some form of it. That’s a hard statistic, but it doesn’t mean you have to become one. Pap smears can help you become aware of changes in your cervix long before they ever need to become a problem. There is also an HPV vaccine available, which protects against the two most deadly strains. Practicing safe oral and penetrative sex with dental dams and condoms can reduce your risk against cancer, infection, and of course STI’s, as well.
Oh sweet, humble, donut-shaped cervix. You do so much for us, and yet you ask for no fame in return. You were first documented by Hippocrates over 2000 years ago, but we still have so much to learn about your noble gatekeeping and orgasm-giving. In honor of January being Cervical Health Awareness month, we say to you: thank you for your cervix.