To all the women – you need to know your body well in order to fully optimize your life. Live each day living your best be it in your career, relationships, enjoying your hobbies or even planning to start your own family.
Health is wealth. Without health, you cannot live a fulfilling life when you are impeded by health issues. This is why it is important to always be aware of your own health.
Especially towards the hopefuls desiring to get pregnant and start your own family, cervix health is exceptionally important.
Out of 100 couples in the United States, 12-13 out of 100 have difficulty in conceiving. 10% of the women population (6.1 million) in the US from the age of 15-44, have difficulty conceiving or staying pregnant. Every part of your body should be conditioned to be the most optimal environment for fertilization and development in order to increase chances of conceiving.
What’s the Cervix?
The cervix is located at the lowest part of your uterus. Measuring at 2.5cm – 3.8cm long, it is the passageway connecting your uterus to the vagina. Essentially in Latin, its literal translation means womb’s neck. The cervix’s texture feels like a pair of puckered lips and is o-shaped with a hole at the centre in the vagina. The cervix should feel firm like an unripen fruit when you are not pregnant. The cervix’s length and width can vary across a woman’s lifetime. This can be dependent to different scenarios which we will explore in the categories below.
Tasks of The Cervix
The cervix is the passage that allows the menstrual blood to be discharged. It keeps undesired bacteria and viruses out of your uterus, hence preventing infection. It acts as the gateway – opening and closing for the sperm and menstrual blood to pass through.
Cervix also produces its own lubrication. It is also the protection provided to the baby in the form of a thick mucus plug against the external environments during the pregnancy term. It also prevents sperm from entering the uterus during this period when you are expecting.
Categories of Cervical Os
The Cervical Os is part of the female reproductive system and part of the cervix. Below is the breakdown of the different categories:
- The Ectocervix – this is the passage between the vagina and the uterus. It is also the nearest and most susceptible to the influences of external environments.
- The External Os – Also known as the cervical canal, the external os is the opening at the center of the ectocervix.
- The Endocervix -the endocervical canal is the passage that connects the vagina to the uterus.
- The Internal Os – This is the opening into the uterus from the cervix.
- The transformation zone – Known as the squamocolumnar zone, this border covers both areas of the ectocervix and endocervix. It is where the columnar cells are transformed into squamous cells.
Most of this transformation only occurs during puberty or pregnancy.
Feel the Cervix Instead of Observing Cervical Mucus
When you are not pregnant, the cervix should feel firm similar to touching the tip of your nose. During ovulation, your cervix will rise, soften and open up more to allow sperm to easily enter during sexual intercourse. Once the ovulation period has ended, the cervix lowers and becomes firm again.
During pregnancy, you can expect the cervix to soften due to the increase in blood flow to the area. The feeling will be akin to touching your lips than feeling your nose. However, the position of the cervix rising differs from woman to woman. Hence, it is not as reliable as an indicator and not advised to determine if you are expecting or not just by checking the cervical position.
As the thickness and texture of the cervical mucus differs per person, it is best to check the conditions of the cervix for a more accurate diagnosis.
How Can You Feel and Observe the Cervix Step by Step?
Don’t know how to feel and observe the cervix, let us introduce to you 8 simple steps to checking your cervical position.
- Firstly, practice always makes perfect. Having to practice checking after bathing helps. You may not be accurate on the first try, but as you practice, you will be more familiar with the feeling of the cervix to determine its position.
- Secondly, hygiene is always a necessity. Wash your hand with anti-bacterial soap and water before conducting a check. This is to ensure minimal bacteria comes into contact with your cervix and uterus. Thereby, minimizing the chances of vaginal or fungal infection. If you have some infection in those areas, it is good to treat the infection first before checking.
- Thirdly, trim your nails to prevent unnecessary injuries to your internal organs.
- Fourthly, make yourself comfortable. Find a position that is easy for you to reach the cervix. You may try squatting on sitting on the toilet. Once you find your optimal position, it is good to maintain that posture everytime you check your cervix.
- Fifthly, place your longest finger into the vagina up to the middle knuckle till you are able to feel your cervix. Take time to remember the familiarity of the texture and the texture of the round shaped, small dent opening around it.
- Sixthly, notice the position of your cervix. If it is low, you should be able to feel it immediately up to your first knuckle when you insert into your vagina. If it has risen higher, you should feel your cervix at the second knuckle or not feel it completely. The texture of the cervix should feel soft just before ovulating and it hardens after ovulating. You can also check if the cervical os is slightly open and more relaxed or closed.
- Next, journal and record the position of your cervix across your period. Based on your menstrual cycle, you will be able to identify the best period for ovulation and conceiving.
- Finally, avoid checking the cervical position during or after sexual activity. Your cervical responds accordingly to how sexually aroused you are and changes its position.
How Does the Cervix Change in The Cycle?
Cervix After Menstruation
Cervix during menstruation is always located at low positions and feels hard to the touch. It is also slightly opened to discharge the menstrual blood. After menstruation ends, the conditions are still the same except that the opening before is now closed.
Cervix in The Fertile Phase
As your body reaches the ovulating phase, the cervix begins to rise in its position to the top of the vagina. Sometimes, it may rise so high that your finger may not be able to feel it. Also, it softens and becomes moist to the touch. The cervix will feel like a pair of thick, wet lips with the cervical os open for sperm to enter. This is the height of your ovulating phase and best time for sexual intercourse to conceive. This is the most ideal setting for pregnancy.
Cervix After Ovulation
After ovulation, the cervix returns to its original position and texture – becoming low and firm again. The uterus opening will remain closed. It can happen as soon as right after the ovulation to several hours or days after ovulating. In the event you successfully conceived after ovulation, the cervix will rise and stay at the heightened position and its opening says closed. This can differ from woman to woman from as early as 12 days after ovulation to weeks down after pregnancy is confirmed by doctors or test kits.
Cervix Palpation – How Do I Evaluate It?
How Do I Note My Observations of The Cervix?
Tracking your observations require time, consistency and diligence. You will be able to easily identify your changes after tracking daily for minimally a few cycles. With technology today, there are mobile apps available for you to chart your cervical texture, position, cervical mucus patterns, menstruation, basal body temperature and ovulation. However, these data may not be the most accurate to determine if you are pregnant. The most trusted way is to take a pregnancy test and consult your doctor.
Cervix Palpation and Use of Cycle Computer
Cycle computers like Cyclotest myWay is an example of products that women can use to practice monitoring their natural cycles and it is highly suitable for women wishing to conceive.
The whole idea of the cycle computers is to help determine your most fertile and infertile days. Therefore, you can plan your sexual activities accordingly to increase the chances of getting pregnant. You can make every moment count for maximum effectiveness and efficiency. The natural method used tracks your body temperature upon waking up. You will take your body temperature ideally underneath your tongue and it will start and end the measuring process with a beep. They will be able to predict even your fertility status weeks ahead.
This can be also used to inform you when to take contraceptives if you are not wanting to get pregnant.
For the measuring to be accurate, the body’s temperature should not be affected by any external influences. If you are currently experiencing irregular night rests due to shift work, have not been sleeping a minimum of five hours daily or having unusually long or short menstrual cycles (less than 11 days or more than 45 days), the cycle computer is not recommended for you till you have regained proper rest and am menstruating healthily.
If you were previously on hormonal contraceptives, do give your body some time to kickstart natural menstruation again after stopping the pills before utilizing the tech to measure. In addition, you can take note of the days you have other external factors affecting you from alcohol intake to medication or lack of sleep so that the results will not take into account of those measurements during the particular days.
The ovulation test can also be conducted and recorded to enhance the reliability and accuracy of the results. The cycle computer can also highlight medical issues like ovarian insufficiency which may have caused the fertilized egg to not be successfully attached to the uterine wall to be developed. For such issues, do consult a doctor for further treatment.
What Else Should Be Considered (After Birth of a Child or Surgery)
After childbirth, you can expect significant physical changes in your body after vaginal delivery. The tear in the vaginal can take weeks to heal with more extensive ones taking a little longer than usual. During labour, the cervix reaches full dilation at 10cm before having to deliver the bay. After delivering the child, the cervix starts to slowly contract back to previous size. The duration varies for each woman from several days to several weeks. As the cervix shrinks down, many often feel the contractions and bleed for several weeks after birth. There may be signs of incontinence of few drops of urine during sneezing, laughers or coughs due to the stretching of the pelvic muscles. It is good to wear sanitary pads, sit on a pillow or place an ice pack on the wound during this recovery period. It is also advisable to soak in a warm bath with your buttocks and hips covered for five minutes to relief the pain. Stool softeners and laxatives can also be prescribed by doctor to help for easier discharge as your lower body recovers.
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