Get to Know Your Cervix
The female body has a wondrous organ that rarely gets the credit it deserves: the cervix. The cervix is the part of the uterus that is protruding down into the vagina. That is, the opening between the uterus and the vaginal channel. It can be felt like a small "snout" our doughnut-shaped button at the top of the vaginal channel.
As we will learn in this text, she plays a key role both in female fertility, female sexual pleasure and pregnancy. This blog post is dedicated to lifting her from the shadows and into the lime light - so that she may be honored as the magical part of our bodies which she is.
The Cervix Is a Key Player in Our Fertility
In Fertility Awareness, we fondly call the cervix "Nature's Gate". That's because through her, all human life will pass, and she keeps watch at the entrance. The cervix is only open a few days each cycle - first to let out menstrual blood in the beginning of the cycle, and then to let in sperm during our fertile window (which is on average 5 days long). If the cervix is Nature's Gate, the mucus produced in the cervix is the gatekeeper. Most of the cycle the cervical mucus is thick and unpenetrable - forming a solid plug in the cervical channel, that sperm cannot pass through (it is also keeping out other substances, that could harm the uterus). At this point of the cycle, sperm get stuck in the vaginal channel and dies within minutes after ejaculation in the acidic environment created by our vaginal microbiome. When we enter our fertile window, however, rising estrogen stimulates the production of another kind of mucus - fertile cervical mucus - which is much more fluid. This mucus opens up the cervical channel, so that sperm can pass through. It has the same PH value as sperm (alkaline, that is), creating an environment in which they can survive and await ovulation. It consist of channels which vibrates at the same frequency as the sperm's tails (!) - creating highways that helps them to reach the egg. The fertile mucus also contains enzymes which prepare the sperm for fertilization, and have a function that can block damage sperm from entering the uterus and reaching the egg. In other words - it is a gatekeeper, having an active role in deciding which sperm we want to enter us and potentially reach our egg.
Cervical mucus is the most important sign of fertility we chart in the sympto-thermal method of Fertility Awareness - it is learning to observe for these changes that allows us to naturally avoid (or achieve) pregnancy.
Protection of a Pregnancy
During pregnancy, the cervix is also a gatekeeper - protecting the pregnancy and keeping it in place. The cervix is has a circular muscle (sphincter), that is tight during the pregnancy - keeping the opening to the vagina closed. The thick mucus plug mentioned earlier also becomes even thicker - protecting the pregnancy from the entry of harmful substances.
During childbirth the cervix relaxes and opens - and becomes the birth channel. During labor she dilates from a very narrow opening - to an opening of 10 centimeters!
A Pleasure Organ
The clitoris and G-spot usually gets most of the lime light when speaking about female sexual pleasure. But in fact, many experience that they also can get a deep kind of orgasm from stimulation of the cervix - either with a partner or by themselves. Many experience this kind of orgasm as profound - and some even liken in to a spiritual experience. It is believed that these orgasms arise from stimulation of the vagus nerve - to which the cervix is connected. The vagus nerve is an important nerve connected to the parasympathetic nervous system - which means that it regulates deep states of relaxation and well-being.
The Cervix Change Through the Menstrual Cycle
The cervix changes its position and texture during the menstrual cycle - affected by the hormonal environment in the body. In the beginning of the cycle, when both sex hormones (estrogen and progesterone) are low, it sits low in the vagina and is hard and tightly closed. As estrogen rises, nearing ovulation, she moves higher up in the vagina, becomes softer and more open. The change in position and texture becomes more pronounced the closer to ovulation we get. After ovulation, with the rise of progesterone, the cervix quickly moves back to its original position and texture - again becoming hard, closed and positioned low in the vagina. Exactly how the change in position feels can vary - depending on the individual position of the uterus. Sometimes it can feel more like the position is changing from vertical to horizontal - or even that it becomes lower during ovulation. A woman learn to recognize how the change feels like in her individual body by doing regular self-examinations. This change in position and texture is a supplementary sign of fertility that a woman can learn to observe and chart when using a sympto-thermal method of Fertility Awareness. The change of position can also mean that vaginal intercourse feels different during the different phases of the cycle. Some experience that deeper penetration is more pleasurable around ovulation, when the cervix sits higher up in the vagina.
She Needs to Be Cared For
I hope that this article has given you as much awe for this organ as I experience. And maybe, it has put a light on all the reasons to why the cervix is worthy of our care and attention.
The health of the cervix is sensitive, and we need to pay attention to her well-being. Problems that can occur when our cervical health is out of balance is that we become more prone to catching STIs and other cervical infections - as well as developing cervical cell changes, which could potential lead to the development of cervical cancer if not properly cared for. Caring for cervical health means to care for a healthy vaginal flora (vaginal microbiome) - since the good bacteria in the vagina acts as a prolongation of the local immune system. A healthy vaginal flora is dependent on diet and lifestyle factors, and can also be negatively affected by the use of hormonal contraception. Making sure that everything that enters the vagina is clean and chemical-free is also important - as well as avoiding washing the inside of the vagina and avoiding use of soap on the vulva; she is a self-cleaning organ and do not need our additional help.
Cervical health is also dependent on the general function of our immune system, and on nutritional balance. And last but not least: do not engage in sexual practice that causes pain on the cervix. If you experience pain or discomfort during penetration - slow down, and ask your partner to go less deep and/or less hard. To reduce the risk of deep penetration being painful, make sure that your vagina is well prepared before intercourse - that she has gotten her juices going naturally, and is open, relaxed and ready to receive.
The cervix is a guardian of life - let's relearn to guard her with equal dedication. I can assure you that she will reward us manifold.