I cannot remember when I was introduced to the cervix. I may have learned about it in health class in high school, but I can’t imagine I learned more than where it was located in my body. And really, I don’t think even that.
I do remember the gym teacher that taught health class giving a lecture on how bad anal sex is and why we can never do it, so the idea of her knowing and teaching about the magical cervix feels like a stretch!
What I do know is that when I set out to teach myself about my menstrual cycles, I got angry when I noticed how I was never taught any of the cool cervix stuff.
I was angry for all the menstruators out there who were never told about the extra fluid they may notice at certain times in their cycle and how they may think, like me, that they consistently are getting yeast infections.
I was upset by the general lack of knowledge about our reproductive anatomy – the easiest stuff to learn. My biggest issue is the word ‘vagina’ when speaking about the ‘vulva.’
I have a hard time accepting that the fertility awareness method (FAM) is confused with the rhythm method by doctors and as a result, people not using/trying it as a natural form of birth control and/or pregnancy achievement or even just to track the overall health of your body because they were told by an authority that it is ineffective and even dangerous.
I am still angry that this isn’t taught in schools and we have to hear politicians say things like, You’re not supposed to be wet. My wife is a doctor, so I know – I am paraphrasing, of course.
I did a quick google search for cervix and the top searches were all related to different types of diseases related to it. To me this says more people look it up when there is a disfunction than out of curiosity about it for health and general body knowledge.
I’ve noticed that a lot of times when we speak about the reproductive system of menstruators, it usually has to do with having babies, and if we no longer menstruate, the whole system is pointless.
After sitting on this anger for some time, I decided to do what I can now to get this information out to the world. It is so important for people to understand their bodies and what is going on during each day of the menstrual cycle.
I am going to get into the anatomy of our reproductive system, the pure magic of the cervix and our menstrual cycles, and how you can use this information for your own needs! YAY!
The cervix is located between the vagina and the uterus and is around 4cm long. It is the gate to the uterus.
When we zoom in on the cervix, you will notice little caves or paths along the edge of the lining of the cervix. These are known as cervical crypts, which just makes me so happy!
The external os is the opening to the vagina and the internal os is the opening to the uterus.
For such a small area, the cervix creates such a beautiful cascade of changes.
To explain this magic, I will be going through the menstrual cycle, the flow of hormones that change throughout our cycles.
Below is a simple image of the hormonal changes.
The Follicular Phase
Beginning on day 1 of the menstrual cycle, which is the first day of full bleeding, estrogen, progesterone, and lutenizing hormone (LH) are all pretty low.
Follicle stimulating hormone (FSH) has been summoned and works on the ovaries to stimulate follicle growth – this starts the process.
At this time through to ovulation (follicular phase), your cervix will be low, firm, closed, and dry.
All of these points make it nearly impossible for sperm to even make it through the cervix. It is an uninhabitable landscape for sperm to live.
Sperm are quite high maintenance and need the perfect environment to live. The cervix knows this and alters its environment to suit where you are in your menstrual cycle.
When you are not fertile, your cervix is not going to be welcoming to the little swimmers!
If you want to check this out on yourself, please do.
If you are checking for the first time, you will be doing a baseline check. With nothing to compare it with, you may not notice how cool it all is, but I do promise it’s pretty freaking cool!
Use one finger and slide it into your vagina.
Feel where your cervix is in relation to your vaginal opening.
At this time it will be considered low. This means less of your finger is going to be inside your vagina.
It will feel firm like the tip of your nose.
Closed means you probably will not feel a dimple-like indentation.
Dry means you will not have that juicy, eggwhite fluid on your finger when you remove it. You may notice this fluid dries on your finger – fertile cervical fluid will not dry out in the air.
As your cycle moves closer and closer to ovulation, you will notice your cervix changing! It will start to soften, move higher, open, and become very wet. This happens with the changes in hormones once again.
Estrogen peaks just before ovulation and LH surges at this time as well. This signifies to the cervix to move higher up, become softer, open, and secrete cervical fluid. (High, open, soft, wet)
If you want to compare these two states, you will notice that your cervix now feels more like your lips in softness, it is pretty high up in the vagina, you may feel the os open – it’s kind of like a dimple, and you will notice thick, slippery cervical fluid.
The fluid will feel like eggwhites and/or be really slippery like lube.
At this time, your cervix is doing all it can to make a welcoming environment for any visiting sperm. The cervical fluid becomes more alkaline than the otherwise acidic vagina, creates pathways for the sperm to easily follow, contains nutrients and energy for the sperm to carry on their travels, and it is used as a filtering medium as well.
The cervical crypts I mentioned earlier is where this fluid is produced. They also act as a rest stop for any sperm that need a break.
All this change is quite dramatic.
You may notice your cervical fluid slowly changing from dry to lubricant-like for a week, give or take, before ovulation.
If you follow any kind of fertility awareness, you will already be tracking this fluid every day of your cycle. The cervical position – high, low – can also be tracked and recorded.
Then right after you ovulate, your cervical fluid dries up fast – within a day or two. Once ovulation is over…it’s over! Your estrogen does take a dip here.
The Luteal Phase
Now is the luteal phase. Your progesterone increases sharply and estrogen comes back up a bit too.
Cervical fluid dries up, the cervix moves back up, it closes its door, and firms up again.
When the cervical fluid is dry and sticky, the sperm cannot actually make its way through it. It’s like a block. It is quite incredible.
What Can I Do With This?
With this information you can now observe your own cycles and notice when your fluid changes, when your cervix has moved up or down.
This will make you more aware of the natural rhythms of your body, which means you do not have to question whether or not you have a yeast infection – you will know based on this information.
You can also begin to track and chart your cycles. Most people think this is just for those who want to conceive or for a natural birth control, but it is so much more than that.
Charting your cycles will make you more aware of what is normal for you and what isn’t. So the moment you notice something has changed, you can look back to see why.
If charting seems like something you want to try, check out the book I recommend below. It has all the information you need to get started!
This has been just a quick look into the cervix.
If this has interested you in any way, I highly recommend the book Taking Charge of Your Fertility by Toni Weschler.
There is so much to learn in this book. It’s always my top recommended book for clients.
When we understand our bodies and cycles, we can better connect and respect them.
Connection is always key!
We will also be better able to advocate for ourselves and our health with our healthcare providers.
The more we know about our own bodies, the more we can speak up when we are not being heard.
The power is within us!
Yours in plant love,