Did you know that January is Cervical Health Month? This hidden part of your anatomy plays a huge role in your sexual health and pleasure. But unless you’ve struggled to get pregnant, tracked your cycle via certain forms of natural family planning, or had an issue, you probably haven’t spent much time thinking about your cervix—until today. Think of this post as part love letter and part tell-all. From the basics to cervical health, cancer screening guidlines to cervical orgasm, here’s everything you need to know about this vital but often ignored body part.
What and where is my cervix?
Your cervix is the lowest part of your uterus, where it connects with your vagina. It’s located 3-6 inches inside your vagina, and is shaped like a small donut with a tiny hole in the center.
More of a visual learner? The Beautiful Cervix Project has amazing photo galleries. Each one showcases a series of photos of different women’s cervices. There aren’t external genitalia visible in any of the photos, they are still anatomical images.
Your cervix changes positions throughout your menstrual cycle. This also happens when you get turned on. As you get aroused, your cervix pulls up and back in a process called “vaginal tenting” to create more space inside your vagina for fun things like fingers, penises, and sex toys.
Can I feel my cervix?
Yup! To find it, insert your longest finger into your vagina. When your finger can’t reach further, you found your cervix. It may feel soft, like pursed lips, or firm, like the tip of your nose, depending on where you are in your cycle.
You can also stimulate your cervix during sex. If you ever felt a unique, sometimes painful, sensation in your lower belly during intercourse, that’s your cervix. This can feel amazing for some people – yes even if it’s hurt in the past! – so scroll down for tips on having a cervical orgasm.
What does my cervix do/why should I care about it?
The cervix secretes the discharge that you see (and potentially lament if it ruins your favorite undies…just us?) throughout your menstrual cycle. Sex geek fact: the change in consistency of this cervical mucus promotes or prevents pregnancy depending on where you are in your cycle. Isn’t the body so damn cool?!
The cervix makes it so that the vagina is a giant U-turn. It lets discharge, period blood, and babies out, but doesn’t let anything (eg condoms, kegels/ben wa balls, etc) go in. Think of your it like your body’s bouncer: it stops whatever enters your vagina from making its way further in!
How do I take care of my cervical health?
Here are four things to think about when it comes to your cervical healthy.
- Look in your panties. Your discharge changes a lot throughout your cycle. Get to know what’s normal for you when. Look at it, touch it, smell it – whatever you’re comfortable with! This’ll help you know sooner rather than later if something changes (e.g. yeast infections, BV, and STIs can all cause changes in vaginal discharge and odor). This article from Refinery 29 does an amazing job of showing you what’s normal & what to look out for.
- Find a healthcare provider you feel comfortable talking to about your sexual health, including cervical health and orgasm. This can be a gynecologist or primary care provider, doctor or nurse practitioner. Planned Parenthood or similar clinics (click here for a state-by-state listing) is also an option.
- Visit your provider regularly. Visit your healthcare provider at least once a year for a “Well Woman Visit.” Go sooner if you have any issues including painful sex, unusual discharge, changes in your period, abdominal pain, etc.
- Get the right cervical cancer screening. Yup, we’re talking about Pap smears. We know they can range from unpleasant to (re)traumatising. That’s why its so helpful to have a provider you trust. Putting yourself in an awkward, uncomfortable, and unpleasant situation is easier if you’re with someone you like and who’ll work with you. As for how often you should get a pap smear to check your cervical health? These are the most updated guidlines as of 2018. f you have a family history of cervical cancer, take certain medications (e.g. immunosuppresants), or have had abnormal test results, these guidelines may be different.
- You should get your first Pap smear at age 21, regardless of if or when you started having sex.
- If you’re 20-29, you’ll get a Pap every 3 years. Note: if you change health insurance plans during this time, your new plan may require another one.
- If you’re 30 and over, you’ll either get a Pap every 3 years OR a Pap with an HPV test every 5 years.
- If you’re 65 and over or post-hysterectomy, you most likely won’t need any more Pap smears unless you have a history of abnormal test results.
- Get your HPV vaccine. A handful of the 100+ types of HPV(human papillomavirus) cause most cervical cancers. Preventing these strains is the single most powerful way to take care of your cervical health and prevent cervical cancer.
What’s the real deal on HPV & cervical cancer?
If you live in the US, you’ve heard about HPV and cervical cancer in recent years. The HPV vaccine commercials even played on Hulu for a while!
About 13,000 people in the US get diagnosed with cervical cancer each year. You’re more likely to be diagnosed if you have lower income, don’t have good healthcare access, or are between the age of 35-55.
The good news is that cervical cancer is preventable! The HPV vaccine all but stops it from developing. Regular screenings as outlined above, also detect cancer early when it’s easier to treat.
Are cervical orgasm real?
Can people experience orgasm from cervical stimulation? You betcha! Not everyone, of course, and not in the same ways but it is possible.
For some people, cervical stimulation feels really good! For others, that’s not the case. Approach cervical orgasm with a gentle curiosity, and use these tips to guide you.
- Time it right. The location and sensitivity of your cervix changes throughout your cycle (yes even if you’re on birth control). Generally, it’s most sensitive in the days before and during your period so avoid stimulating it then. Instead, try when you ovulate – about 2 weeks before your period comes. Remember: these are just suggestions. If having your cervix touched feels iffy, try it during different times of months to see if anything changes.
- Assume the (right) position. Because your cervix is 3-6 inches in your vagina, you’ll need deeper stimulation. Doggy style is a great option (here are 4 tips to make it hotter). Another great option is lap dance position. Have your partner sit on the edge of a couch or chair. Stand between their legs with your butt facing them, and then sit down on their penis. Roll your hips and bend forward slightly for deeper stimulation.
- Be super duper turned on. Don’t go straight for deep penetration that reaches your cervix. Instead, get all the way turned on (here are some ideas to do that) first. Then go deeper. Make sure whatever you use – fingers, penis, or sex toy – touches the cervix with each thrust.
- Use a penis buffer. If your partner is longer, a buffer can help you get the cervical stimulation (and orgasm!) you crave with less pain—and without sacrificing their pleasure. Simply put some lube on your partner and the buffer, slip it on, and enjoy!