What is your cervix and why is it important?
The muscle ring that separates your uterus from the top of your vagina is called your cervix. It has a tiny opening to allow sperm to enter, but prevents things like water from entering your uterus so you can avoid infections. Additionally, it performs the extremely important task of keeping your child in the uterus until they are ready to be born.
You probably already know that the cervix changes during labor. In order for your baby to make their grand entrance, it dilates (opens) and effaces (thins and shortens).
But you might not be aware that it also undergoes significant changes during a typical monthly cycle.
In the months leading up to conception, if you get to know these changes by feeling your cervix, you might be able to detect when something feels a little different. This could be the first indication that you’re going to have a baby. Clever, right?.
The only surefire way to determine whether you’re pregnant is to wait until your period is past due and then test, as checking your cervix is obviously not a conclusive pregnancy test. But getting to know your body better and comprehending what’s normal for you never hurts.
What does the cervix do in women who are not pregnant?
The cervix in non-pregnant women is narrow and firm. As a woman goes through her menstrual cycle, subtle changes are made to its size, shape, and lining.
For instance, the cervix has a smooth covering of mucus. Fertile mucus, which is produced when a woman is ovulating and becomes elastic and stretchy to aid sperm movement and survival after sexual activity. The mucus has a more creamy texture and can be milky or yellow in color when a woman is not ovulating. At this stage of the menstrual cycle, this change in consistency shows that sperm are less likely to enter the uterus after sexual activity.
The cervical canal, a passageway located within the cervix, plays a significant role in women who are not pregnant. Through this channel, sperm enters the uterus following sexual activity and menstrual blood exits the uterus during menstruation.
How does your cervix feel in early pregnancy?
Your cervix should typically feel a little bit hard and open at the beginning of the month (during your period) in a typical, non-pregnant cycle. In this context, when we say “hard,” we mean that it feels similar to the tip of your nose.
It should become softer and more like your vaginal wall as you get closer to ovulation. Extra estrogen and increased blood flow to your uterus around the time of ovulation cause this softening.
The week following the release of the egg, your cervix then gradually hardens once more.
If you become pregnant, your hormone levels will increase and your body will begin pumping more blood into your uterus so that it can begin preparing for the arrival of the baby. Additionally, it must create the mucus plug that will block your cervix until labor begins as well as the placenta.
Therefore, if you are pregnant, it is likely that your cervix won’t harden again after ovulation. It will instead feel as soft as it usually does in the middle of your cycle for a few extra weeks.
The catch is that this early pregnancy sign requires quick observation. The cervix will likely remain hard and closed for the majority of your pregnancy once the mucus plug is ready.