In 2010, a study of 236 U.S. college students found that 46% of women were unable to locate the cervix on a medical diagram. The same study also found that of these U.S. college students, 62% of women couldn't locate the vagina and 27% didn't know where the clitoris is. It's stats like these that show why knowing
facts about your cervix, as well as the rest of your reproductive system, is so important.
It seems that while people may be aware they have a cervix, among other essential components of the reproductive system, their knowledge of these parts is limited. But no one ever said that
sex ed in the United States was on the up and up when it came to, well, anything. So naturally, there's a lot some of us don't know.
"A lot of people don’t actually understand where the cervix is," family physician and associate professor at Rowan University School of Osteopathic Medicine,
Dr. Jen Caudle, tells Bustle. "The cervix lies at the opening of the uterus (where babies grow) which is at the top of the vagina — it connects the uterus to the vagina."
But not knowing where the cervix is is just the beginning. Here are seven things no one ever told you about your cervix.
The Cervix Can Be Bruised During Sex
If you've ever had an aching pain, similar to cramps, after penetration with someone with a large penis or after rough sex, there's a chance that your
cervix has been bruised. But no worries! Cervixes sometimes get bruised and can be easily treated.
bruised cervix is treated with pelvic rest as long as there isn’t bleeding associated with it," Dr. Kat Van Kirk, licensed marriage and sex therapist, and licensed sex expert at Adam & Eve, tells Bustle. "If there is bleeding or the bruised feeling doesn’t subside after you have rested it for a few days to a week, you may need to follow up with a medical provider to rule out that there is nothing else going on."
The Cervix Opening Expands During Childbirth
Whether it's arousal or childbirth, there's a lot of expanding and contracting that goes on in the female reproductive system — and it's amazing.
"The cervix has a small opening (it kind of looks like a button), that expands during childbirth," Dr. Caudle says.
Without the expansion of this small opening, childbirth would not only be even more painful, but impossible. The baby can't pass from the uterus to the outside world without making its way there via the cervix.
This Opening Is Also Responsible For Releasing Menstrual Blood
It's also via this opening that, according to Dr. Caudle, menstrual blood is able to pass when we get our period. When the uterine lining sheds every month, it trickles its way down and out the cervix's opening.
Before you think we have a
"wandering womb" situation on our hands, hold up. While the wandering womb theory was the belief that the uterus would move around, therefore allowing doctors in ancient times to misdiagnose women, the cervix "moves" in a way that makes far more sense.
About 12 to 14 days after your period starts, your
cervix is at its softest and highest. This is a great thing to track and be aware of, especially if you're someone who's prone to cervix bruising during penetration.
The Cervix Creates Its Own Mucus
Mucus is one of the ways in which the body keeps itself hydrated. Cervical mucus is no different, but it also serves other purposes too.
"Cervical mucus plays a big role in pregnancy," Dr. Caudle says. "It helps receive, filter, and release the sperm so an egg can be fertilized."
Not only that, but
cervical mucus can also determine when you're ovulating and about to ovulate. It's that ovulation mucus that gets everything into place as Dr. Caudle points out.
The Cervix Is The Reason Some People Have Less Menstrual Pain After Childbirth
If you're someone who has struggled with menstruation-related pain throughout your life, there's a decent chance that might come to an end after childbirth. We can thank that aforementioned cervix opening expansion for this.
"[Less pain] is usually because the
cervix has expanded and will allow for blood to flow with less need for uterine contractions," health and wellness expert Caleb Backe, of Maple Holistics, tells Bustle.
Cervical Cancer Is One Of The Most Common Cancers In Women
"Cervical cancer is one of the most common cancers affecting U.S. women," Dr. Caudle says. "The HPV (human papilloma virus) is the main
cause of cervical cancer. HPV can be prevented with the HPV vaccine. The Pap test and HPV test are used to screen for cervical cancer."
Basically, you want to stay on top of your Pap Smears, because they're the tests that will determine the health of your cervix.
Whether or not you have a cervix, having some knowledge about it is still important. The human body is fascinating, each and every part of it, and informing yourself about the inner workings of it is something worth considering.