6 Fascinating Facts Everyone With A Cervix Should Know

Photographed by Nicolas Bloise.
Would you consider your cervix a close friend or more of a casual acquaintance? It's been there the whole time, but how often are you really getting up there to say hello? If you're thinking, Literally never, don't stress. The truth is that far too many of us simply aren't tuned into the cool things our cervixes are doing throughout the month, every month, right below our belts.
"The cervix is the area of tissue that marks the mouth of the uterus," says Taraneh Shirazian, MD, assistant professor of obstetrics and gynaecology at NYU Langone Medical Centre. Essentially, it functions as the entrance from the vaginal canal into the uterus, where sperm have to travel to meet an egg.
Advertisement
So this humble barrier actually has a huge job — it's the gateway between pregnancy and non-pregnancy — and it's one we should probably all be paying a little more attention to. (Partly because it's just plain fascinating.) Continue on to learn what your cervix does, how it changes, and how you can keep it healthy and happy.
1 of 6
The cervix feels like a little donut.

"If you reach all the way up into your vagina, you will feel the cervix," Dr. Shirazian says. It's a circular structure with a tiny hole in the middle that feels a bit like a small, squishy donut.

The cervix also gets softer and more open as you approach ovulation and firmer right after. You can actually feel those changes throughout your cycle by reaching up there to check.
2 of 6
Not everyone's cervix is in the same position.

Most people have what's called a "midline" cervix, meaning it's in the middle of your pelvis. "But, based on the orientation of the uterus, the cervix can be in different positions," Dr. Shirazian says. About 20% of uteri are in a "retroverted" position (meaning the uterus tilts backward), and 30% are in the "anterior" position, which indicates that the uterus is tilting forward.

For most people, having a tilted uterus isn't a huge deal. But for some, an anterior uterus may put extra pressure on the bladder. And those with a retroverted uterus may feel some uncomfortable pressure during penetrative sex "because the bulk of your uterus is in the back of your pelvis," Dr. Shirazian says.
Advertisement
3 of 6
Cervical orgasms are (maybe) a thing.

Speaking of sex positions, Dr. Shirazian says some people feel that their cervix is important for sexual pleasure and even report "cervical orgasms." Some sexual health experts dispute this a bit because there are no nerve endings in the cervix itself (and plenty of other people would rather not have pressure on their cervix during sex, thank you very much). But, for those lucky few, cervical orgasms are reportedly stronger and deeper than clitoral and G-spot climaxes.
4 of 6
Your cervix makes mucus.

You know that discharge that leaves a little spot in your undies? Well, first off, it's totally normal. And second, it's only partly a product of your vagina. The cervix makes mucus (especially around the time of ovulation) that mixes with vaginal fluid to create discharge, Dr. Shirazian explains. In the days following your period, you might notice your discharge has a bit of a brown tinge to it because the last of the uterine lining has mixed with your cervical mucus.
5 of 6
The cervix changes throughout your cycle — and pregnancy.

As we mentioned earlier, the cervix goes through some fun changes during your cycle that make it easier for you to become pregnant. So it's probably not that surprising that your cervix also goes through some considerable changes during pregnancy. It stays firm as the uterus gets bigger, which helps keep the foetus in place. And then, as delivery approaches, it gets softer and dilates to let the baby out, a process termed "cervical ripening."
6 of 6
HPV messes with your cervical cells.

If you were a teen girl within the last two decades, there's no doubt you were warned about the dangers of the human papillomavirus (HPV) and told to get the HPV vaccine. That's because the STI actually changes the cells of your cervix, which can lead to cervical cancer down the line if it goes unchecked, Dr. Shirazian says. Plus, the virus is very common (over 70% of people in the U.S. have it), which is why it's a good idea for pretty much everyone to get the vaccine — regardless of gender — before they become sexually active.

However, "there are over a hundred subtypes of HPV, and the classic vaccine, Gardasil, only covers four of them," Dr. Shirazian explains. Granted, these are the strains most likely to cause aggressive cancer and the ones you're most likely to come across in the US But it's possible to become infected with a different strain, especially if you're out of the country.

That doesn't mean you should skip out on the vaccine, though. "It still protects you against the most aggressive strains and those that lead to cancer most frequently," Dr. Shirazian says. "To me, that feels pretty great."
Advertisement

More from Body

Watch

R29 Original Series