It’s Cervical Cancer Awareness month, which means it’s time to get down and dirty with your cervix. You may not believe it, but the health of your cervix can say quite a bit about what’s happening in your body and life.
Changes to your cervix may indicate anything from a few wild nights in the Caribbean to a more serious condition that should be evaluated by your doc.
You may have guessed by now that this article isn’t quite like the typical, “Your hair says this about you.” We’re not talking about hair here, folks. Not the ones on your head anyway. Spicy redheads aren’t likely to have a spicy cervix, so we’ll just end that thought right here.
No, this is more like a nod of appreciation to the amazing things that your body is capable of — as well as a note to be on the lookout for any changes.
Seriously, though, can we get a round of applause for this underappreciated part of the female body? Without it, you wouldn’t even be here.
What Is the Cervix?
Don’t feel bad if you aren’t exactly sure what a cervix looks like or where exactly it is, for that matter. After all, when’s the last time you looked at one?
A cervix looks a bit like a cylinder and is the link between your uterus and your vagina. It has a slight opening into the uterus and one into your vagina. These are called the internal os and the external os, respectfully.
Now let’s take a look at all of the great things your cervix does and what yours says about you.
A Little Short
Your cervix begins to shorten during pregnancy, as it starts to prepare for a baby. An incompetent cervix, which is present before pregnancy, is a condition that may not show many symptoms until you become pregnant.
Why does this matter? An incompetent cervix may shorten too quickly during pregnancy, resulting in a preterm delivery.
Unexpected changes in your cervix length may also indicate infection or irritation in the uterus, so if you feel any aches or pains in the lower regions and suspect something is wrong, contact your doctor.
A grin may be something odd to picture, but if your cervix opening is smiling or looks a bit like a crescent moon, it may mean that you’ve had a vaginal delivery. Your cervix post-baby will tighten up to its previous state, but just like your life will never be the same with your new bundle of joy, your cervix may not be quite the same, either. But who’s looking?
Barely Visible Opening
If your cervix doesn’t smile, it’s likely that its opening is still pretty tiny. This is an indicator that you’ve likely not had a vaginal delivery. The passageway should be just large enough to let Aunt Flo make her monthly visit and not much bigger.
If your cervix is blue, your cervix is likely building up a high water content with blood flow increasing to the area. This is a good sign, because it means that your body is prepping your cervix for an upcoming delivery.
Increasing water content will make the area soft, which will give it the ability to stretch — definitely something you want in those laborious hours. You know that bagel you ate this morning? Imagine it stretching to that size. You’ll never look at a bagel the same way.
A spotted cervix may indicate the presence of endometriosis, a condition that causes cells found in the lining of the uterus to reproduce in other areas of the body. Endometriosis can cause heavy periods, pain or bleeding after sex, and may even cause infertility.
If any of these symptoms speak to you, it may be time to make an appointment with your doctor. Know, though, that there are many reasons you may be experiencing these symptoms.
Covered in Mucus
You may have heard your doc talk about something incredibly cool called, “The Mucus Plug.” If not, don’t worry, but if you’re pregnant and nearing the end of your pregnancy, knowing what the plug is could help you recognize symptoms of an approaching labor.
The mucus plug is like a seal of approval on your cervix. Made exactly of the slimy stuff that gave it its namesake, it covers the opening between the cervix and uterus, protecting you and your little babe from infection.
As you progress in your pregnancy, the mucus plug will become dislodged, may leak out or may come out in a single glob. Pretty cool, huh?
If it’s not something you spend a lot of time thinking about, your cervix can often go overlooked. Give it a thought in January and show it some good ole appreciation by taking yourself to the doc for a checkup. Maybe then you’ll see just what your cervix says about you.