July 12, 2024
How-to-Check-Your-Cervix Cervical Position Yourself for Optimal Fertility Early Pregnancy

How to Check Your Cervix & Cervical Position Yourself for Optimal Fertility & Early Pregnancy

If you insert two of your fingers into your vagina, you’ll find a blockage at the end; that is the cervix protecting your uterus from intrusion. The position of the cervix constantly changes along with your menstrual cycle. Checking your cervix position gives you a good idea of where you are in your cycle.

This is good news if you’re someone who’s trying to get pregnant. Now you have a natural way of tracking your fertility without spending a single penny. Neat, isn’t it?

In this article, expect to read about why it’s important to check your cervix and what the different cervix positions are. If you’re interested to do this yourself, we’ll tell you how to check your cervix the right way, along with tips and answers to some of your common cervix-related questions.

What is the Cervix?

Before we talk about how to check your cervix position, you need to know what the cervix is. The cervix is a tubular lump of tissue found in the lower, narrower part of the uterus. Approximately 3-4 cm long, it connects the uterus to the vagina. (1)

The cervix has two main parts: the endocervix which acts as the opening of the uterus and the ectocervix on the outside. The ectocervix is what you will touch when you check the position of your cervix, and it’s often described as similar to the tip of your nose or the lips. (2) (3)

During childbirth, the cervix dilates wide enough to let the baby through. It also opens a little bit during menstruation. (4) Another interesting thing about the cervix is the mucus it produces to stop sperm from entering during pregnancy and during certain stages of the menstrual cycle. This mucus also protects the uterus from harmful bacteria that may cause infection. (5)

Why Check Your Cervix Position

Many women monitor their menstrual cycles by checking their cervical fluids, or the mucus that forms around the cervix as part of a woman’s ovulation. In addition to this, women should also check their cervix position if they want more information about their fertility.

Throughout your menstrual cycle, your cervix will be changing positions alongside the hormonal changes that happen every day in your cycle. By checking the position of the cervix, you will know whether you’re fertile or done ovulating—which is useful if you’re trying to get pregnant. During pregnancy, the cervix also dilates as you get closer to your due date.

Different Positions of the Cervix

Before checking your cervix, it’s important to understand how the cervix changes throughout your menstrual cycle.

1. What Does the Cervix Feel Like?

In order to identify your cervix position, you need to know what your cervix feels like. For one, it feels different from your vagina. The inside of your vagina feels soft and wet, but the cervix is a harder spot found way up inside the vagina.

The cervix feels different depending on the phases of your menstrual cycle or pregnancy. Before your ovulation, the cervix feels firm and dry but gets wetter and softer as you near your ovulation date.

2. Cervix Position during Menstruation

In the early part of your menstrual cycle when your estrogen levels are low, your cervix is lower than normal and hard to the touch. During your menstruation, the hole in the middle of the ectocervix, called external os, slightly opens to let menstrual fluid out. After your period, your cervix remains low and hard as it waits for your ovulation.

3. Cervix Position during Ovulation

During your ovulation, your cervix softens and rises as the level of estrogen increases. It also opens a little more to let sperm in during intercourse (or any residual sperm from sex a few days ago). When your cervix feels high, soft, and slightly out of reach, you know that you’re ovulating. The mucus produced during this period is usually compared to raw egg whites because it feels “stretchy and stringy,” making it possible for sperm to ascend to the uterus. (6)

If sperm enters the uterus through the external os, the waiting egg will be fertilized and you will become pregnant. After your ovulation, the cervix lowers once more and hardens again.

If you’re monitoring your cervix during this time, write “open” down on your journal. This is the most fertile period of your menstrual cycle. In contrast, after your ovulation, sperm cannot enter when the opening is closed and the cervix is hard.

4. Cervix Position at Conception and in Early Pregnancy

If you get pregnant during your ovulation, your cervix will remain high and feel soft to touch. (7) This happens because of the increase in blood flow to the cervix caused by rising estrogen levels.

However, the timing of when the cervix rises can vary from woman to woman, so it’s possible for the cervix to be low in a pregnant woman, especially early in the pregnancy. This means it’s not a very reliable clue that you’re pregnant. It’s still best to take a pregnancy test if you suspect you’ve conceived.

5. Cervix Position in Mid and Late Pregnancy

The primary function of the cervix after conception is to maintain and protect the growing fetus. It develops a mucus plug, which acts as a barrier by closing the cervix and keeping the fetus inside. (8)

As you grow closer to your delivery, the cervix softens, shortens, and eventually dilates to allow the baby’s passage. The cervix amazingly reverts to its previous form after birth. (9) As you can see, your cervix plays an all-important role in all stages of fertility.

The Best Time to Check Your Cervix Position

The cervix changes its position throughout the day, so it’s important to set a specific schedule to check your cervix position and stick to it daily. One advice is to check your cervix in the afternoon or before your bedtime as the cervix usually feels lower (and easier to access) at the end of the day. Keep a record of the changes you notice in your cervix.

It’s also a good idea to check your cervix after taking a shower or a warm bath. The main reason for this is cleanliness. After bathing, your body and your hands will be cleaner and safer to insert in your vagina. This prevents possible complications from occurring.

How to Check Your Cervix Position

Many women are nervous about checking their cervices because of the need to insert their fingers deep in their vagina. It’s probably helpful to remember the importance of your cervix position in tracking your fertility. It can spell the difference between a well-timed conception and an unwanted pregnancy, depending on what you’re aiming for at this stage of life.

Try not to be nervous about checking your cervix. To guide you, here are the steps you should follow when checking your cervix position:

1. Wash your hands well.

Again, it’s best to perform this test after taking a shower so your hands are naturally clean. If you want to do it at a different time of the day, then make sure that you clean your hands. Dirty hands can introduce harmful bacteria into your vagina and throw its pH balance off and cause an infection. Use soap and scrub your hands for 20 seconds. The CDC has a guide on how to wash your hands properly. (10)

It may be good to use your middle finger as it’s the longest finger. Also, try to avoid checking your cervix when you have a vaginal infection like a yeast infection.

2. Find a good position.

It’s best to check your cervix when you’re standing or squatting instead of lying down in bed. This makes it easier for you to reach up. Some women prefer sitting on the toilet while doing this or having one leg up on the side of the bathtub. What’s important is that your genital area is spread out for you to explore your vagina and cervix.

3. Reach in Gently.

Insert your middle (or index finger) in your vagina and slide your finger upward as far as you can reach. The cervix is at the back end of your vagina. Remember that it’s low and hard when you’re not ovulating, so it should be easy to find. It’s been described as similar to the tip of your nose or even a small donut with its hole at the center. If you happen to be close to your ovulation, it should feel soft and high.

4. Record your observations.

For you to track the changes in your cervix, you need to write down what your cervix feels like. It may not be easy to detect the changes the first time you check it, but as you monitor your cervix regularly, you will notice the amazing things that happen to your cervix. Just keep in mind what these changes mean (we’ve described the different cervix positions above).

You can also check the mucus discharge of your cervix. The thicker it is, the closer you are to your ovulation. On the days of your ovulation, it will be sticky and can be stretched between your fingers. This is the best time to have sex if you and your partner are trying to get pregnant.

The Knuckle Rule

The knuckle rule is a useful guide to understand your cervix position. It’s measured by counting the number of finger knuckles that can fit inside before reaching your cervix. You can keep a journal and record your observations while using the knuckle rule:

1. Low cervix.

Your cervix is low if you are able to reach it upon inserting one knuckle, meaning from the tip of your finger to the first and shortest bend in your finger. This happens mainly during or after menstruation. You are not fertile during this time.

2. Medium cervix.

A few days after your ovulation, your cervix reaches a medium position where it’s neither high nor low. You’ll be able to insert 2 knuckles before touching your cervix.

3. High cervix.

You can insert an entire finger when your cervix is high. In some cases, it may be so high that it’s hard to reach by finger alone. It also feels wet and squishy with the external os at its most open position. This is your most fertile time.

Tips for Checking Your Cervix

Checking your cervix may seem hard at first, but, with practice, you will eventually get better. Here are some tips that can make it easier for you to monitor your cervix position:

1. When to Check Your Cervix

  1.  Check your cervix at least once after your menstruation. If you have a regular 28 to 30-day cycle, your ovulation will most likely occur around 13-15 days after your last period. (11)
  2.  Check your cervix once a day at the same time every day.
  3.  Pee before checking you’re cervix to avoid an emergency toilet break.

2. While Checking Your Cervix

  1.  Relax so you’re more comfortable.
  2.  It will also make it easier for you to reach your cervix.
  3.  Try to use the same position every day so your checks are done in a consistent manner.
  4.  Use one or two fingers, whichever makes it easier to reach the back of your vagina where the cervix is. Remember the cervix could feel either hard or soft but it will certainly block the way.
  5.  Check your mucus discharge. The creamier and thicker the mucus from your cervix, the closer you are to your ovulation.
  6.  Record all your observations, preferably in a notebook or journal.

3. Checking Your Cervix During or After Pregnancy

  1.  If you’re pregnant, know that your cervix can get dilated even 3 weeks before your actual delivery so it may not be a good indicator of impending labor.
  2.  Your cervix may not feel the same after giving birth. Many women notice that they have a slightly more open ‘os’ (cervix opening) than the one they had before birth. Despite the change, you can still track your fertility through the positions and textures of your cervix.

Dangers of Checking Your Cervix

One possible danger of checking your cervix is the risk of infection. Bacteria in your fingers or hands can be introduced into the vagina or cervix and potentially cause infections.

You can easily avoid this by making sure that you clean your hands before doing your daily checks. Trim your nails to prevent bacteria from living in them and to avoid any internal injuries from sharp fingernails. This is especially crucial when checking your cervix during pregnancy.

Another possible concern is the risk of pre-term labor. Although there is no conclusive evidence yet, cervical/pelvic exams have been associated with an increased risk of premature water breaks. (12) It may be best to minimize cervical checks during labor.

Some Frequently Asked Questions

1. Can cervix position in early pregnancy be misleading?

Yes, it can. During early pregnancy, the cervix most likely feels soft and high. The tenderness comes from the increased blood flow to this area. However, the timing may vary from woman to woman. Some women experience a high cervix at the very onset of their pregnancies, but some women do not. They may think they’re not pregnant as a result.

It’s still best to talk with your doctor or gynecologist to confirm your pregnancy or take a home pregnancy test.

2. I’ve been checking my cervix position and can’t get pregnant. What am I doing wrong?

Some women get pregnant shortly after they start trying to conceive, while other women may need more time. It’s hard to predict when exactly a woman will get pregnant.

For most couples, the odds of getting pregnant are 15-25% at any given month, but factors such as menstrual cycle schedules and age may come into play. For instance, the chances of conceiving for women declines after age 30 and drops some more after 40. (13) It may take longer for some women to conceive, but this doesn’t necessarily mean something is wrong. (14) If you’re concerned about your fertility, you should consult your doctor for advice.

3. Can my cervix tell me if I’m pregnant?

As described above, your cervix is not always a reliable indicator of pregnancy because of the different timing among women. Some women may have a higher, softer cervix, indicating a pregnancy, but other women may experience this a little later.

The signs of being pregnant are also similar to the signs that you’re ovulating, except the signs last longer when you’re pregnant. If you have been monitoring your cervix closely for quite a long time, you may be able to tell the difference and confirm your pregnancy. If you haven’t been checking your cervix position for long, don’t use it as an impromptu pregnancy test.

4. Is checking my cervix enough to track my fertility?

It takes a few cycles for you to be intimate with your cervical changes. Before relying on your cervix position to indicate your fertile periods, you should first do cervical checks for 3 or 4 menstrual cycles. You will somehow become familiar with your ovulation period and menstrual cycle duration by this time.

You should also combine cervix monitoring with other fertility trackers like cervical fluid and body temperature checks to get the most accurate tracking of your fertility.

5. Can you predict labor by checking your cervix?

In some cases, it might. Many gynecologists check the cervix as part of pregnant women’s routine check near the end of their third trimester. But for most women, the cervix may not be very telling when it comes to labor. A woman can be dilated by 3 centimeters long for three weeks and not get into labor until later. Cervical dilation may also suddenly change without warning in some women.

On the other hand, a 2015 report shows that an ultrasound cervix test can indicate a little more accurately when a woman is due. The report says that women have more than 85% chance of giving birth within the week once the cervix has shortened to 1 cm or less, but if the cervix is still dilated by 3 cm close to the due date, the odds of delivery get significantly lower and an emergency c-section may be recommended. (15)

However, this test is not yet common among normal pregnancies and is more technologically advanced than the cervix monitoring we described in this article.

So the short answer is routine checks will most likely not predict labor.

Conclusion

It’s important to be aware of the changes taking place in your body. As a woman, you shouldn’t be afraid or nervous about examining your body. This is part of knowing yourself and understanding how your body changes every day.

Checking your cervix is a natural way of keeping track of the fertile periods of your unique menstrual cycle. Knowing how to do cervical check-ups saves you time and effort.  It can help you either avoid an unwanted pregnancy or perfectly time your sex life with your ovulation period, increasing the odds of pregnancy. It has plenty of important uses and only requires a few minutes of your time.

Set aside your apprehension and there’s absolutely no reason why you shouldn’t check your cervix yourself. Understanding your cervix position means that you’re understanding your body more and more each day.

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References

  1. “The cervix.” Canadian Cancer Society. Accessed November 29, 2018. http://www.cancer.ca/en/cancer-information/cancer-type/cervical/cervical-cancer/the-cervix/?region=on.
  2. “The cervix.” Canadian Cancer Society. Accessed November 29, 2018. http://www.cancer.ca/en/cancer-information/cancer-type/cervical/cervical-cancer/the-cervix/?region=on.
  3. “How can cervical position help you know where you are in your fertility cycle?” WebMD. Last modified June 23, 2017. https://www.webmd.com/infertility-and-reproduction/qa/how-can-cervical-position-help-you-know-where-you-are-in-your-fertility-cycle.
  4. “Picture of the Cervix.” WebMD. Last modified November 15, 2018. https://www.webmd.com/women/picture-of-the-cervix#1.
  5. “The cervix.” Canadian Cancer Society. Accessed November 29, 2018. http://www.cancer.ca/en/cancer-information/cancer-type/cervical/cervical-cancer/the-cervix/?region=on.
  6. Nott, James P., Elizabeth A. Bonney, James D. Pickering, and Nigel A.B. Simpson. “The structure and function of the cervix during pregnancy.” Translational Research in Anatomy, 2, (2016): 1-7. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2214854X1530008X.
  7. Young, Becky. “How Does the Cervix Change in Early Pregnancy?” Last modified September 25, 2018. https://www.healthline.com/health/pregnancy/cervix-in-early-pregnancy.
  8. Nott, James P., Elizabeth A. Bonney, James D. Pickering, and Nigel A.B. Simpson. “The structure and function of the cervix during pregnancy.” Translational Research in Anatomy, 2, (2016): 1-7. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2214854X1530008X.
  9. Myers, Kristin M., Helen Feltovich, Edoardo Mazza, Joy Vink, Michael Bajka, Ronald J. Wapner Timothy J. Hall, and Michael House. “The mechanical role of the cervix in pregnancy.” J Biomech, 48, no. 9(2015): 1511–1523. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4459908/.
  10. “Wash Your Hands.” CDC. Last modified October 11, 2018. https://www.cdc.gov/features/handwashing/index.html.
  11. Nierenberg, Cari. “What Is Ovulation?” Last modified March 6, 2018. https://www.livescience.com/54922-what-is-ovulation.html.
  12. Lenihan, Jr., JP. “Relationship of antepartum pelvic examinations to premature rupture of the membranes.” Obstet Gynecol, 63, no. 1 (1984):33-7. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/?term=lenihan+antepartum+pelvic.
  13. “What are the odds of getting pregnant?” WebMD. Last modified January 11, 2018. https://www.webmd.com/baby/qa/what-are-the-odds-of-getting-pregnant.
  14. “How long does it usually take to get pregnant?” Last modified September 4, 2018. https://www.nhs.uk/common-health-questions/pregnancy/how-long-does-it-usually-take-to-get-pregnant/.
  15. Wilson, Clare. “Baby due date could be predicted more precisely with cervix test.” New Scientist. Last modified October 28, 2015. https://www.newscientist.com/article/dn28399-baby-due-date-could-be-predicted-more-precisely-with-cervix-test/.

Helen

Helen is the founder and chief creative officer of ParentsList. Helen is a mom of three, two boys and a girl, her youngest. She’s a stay-at-home mom who just happens to love writing on the side. She loves spending time with her children, especially on warm, cozy Sunday afternoons when everyone’s just relaxed and enjoying each other’s company.

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