The cervix is a truly miraculous piece of female anatomy. Unfortunately as of late, when we see the word “cervix” it is often associated with HPV and/or cervical cancer. And while it is definitely an important topic, so is knowing the basics about your sexual anatomy and everything it does.
The cervix has a definable and important purpose—several purposes, in fact. Here are six interesting things every single person (regardless of gender) should know about the cervix.
1. The cervix is the gateway to the uterus.
The cervix is a unique, tube-shaped cap at the top of the vaginal tunnel, separating it from the uterus and other internal reproductive organs. If you want to give it some meaning, think of the cervix as the gatekeeper of your womb.
It is about two inches in length with a narrow opening called the cervical os. The os is what lets menstrual blood from the uterus, through the inner cervix, and into the vaginal canal. It is also what dilates during childbirth (more on that later).
2. The cervix changes with your cycle.
The cervix is covered in a variety of cells (epithelial cells, if you want to get scientific). The shape and texture of the cervical cells change with your hormonal cycle.
You can’t feel these changes, but they are up in your body, flushing and shifting. When you are not on your period, the cervix feels tough and a bit rough. If you insert one or two fingers into the vagina, you can feel the cervix up at the tippy top. It feels a bit like a nose, weirdly enough.
During your period, it becomes softer. You may not want to check, unless you don’t mind getting menstrual blood on your hand...which is fine, too.
3. The cervix has no real nerve endings.
Well, at least the outside of the cervix doesn't. This is why you can have such procedures as a cervical biopsy with only some cramping and no medical need for anesthesia.
What the cervix (and vaginal canal) does have is pressure-sensitive nerve endings. This is one of the reasons you may experience cramping with IUD insertion and, on a more pleasurable note, deep erotic sensation during sexual penetration.
Some women who have “cervical orgasms” are really experiencing deep pressure sensitivity and the activation of the internal clitoral network. Click here for more on the clitoris. And for you ladies having these so-called cervical orgasms, good on you. Props.
4. The cervix allows for and protects pregnancy.
The mucus-rich lining of the cervix allows sperm to enter the uterus once it has been released into the vaginal canal. Sperm then swim up to the fallopian tubes and towards the ovaries. Though, not many sperm are successful in this journey.
When you’re pregnant, the cervix hardens, keeping a baby snuggly safe in your uterus while it grows. When it’s time to give birth, the tiny little cervix dilates so much that you can push the baby’s head through it.
Once you’ve delivered your baby, the cervix goes back to its original size. The female body is a freakin’ wonder.
5. The cervix can get irritated.
You may experience some light spotting or a feeling of “bruising” in your cervix after a bought of super intense love making. The cervix cannot get “bruised,” but it can get a bit pissed off. When you experience super deep penetration, the mucus-rich cervix can get a bit smacked around.
Basically, the cervix gets tender. If you are experiencing this sensation after rougher sex, slow down. You don’t want to hurt yourself, even if it feels good in the moment.
Keep in mind that frequent bleeding during sex should be addressed with your doctor.
6. The cervix wants you to get regular Pap screenings!
It does. It told us so. The cervix is susceptible to cancerous cells caused by HPV.
Whether you’re in a monogamous relationship or not, HPV can still live inside the body. While 90 percent of cases of the virus eradicate themselves without need for treatment, it’s important to have regular yearly Pap smears to make sure everything is good in the cervical neighborhood.
And if you haven’t had the HPV vaccine, get it now. Get it for your kids. Make everyone you know get it.