How to Check Your Cervix at Home
Your cervix is an important part of your body — not just if you are looking to get (or avoid getting) pregnant, but also for overall reproductive health. Checking the position of your cervix at home can help you get to know your menstrual cycle and better understand the way your body works.
But what is the cervix? And what are you feeling for? Rummaging around blindly is not the proper way to find the cervix. You should have an understanding of what you are feeling for, what’s normal, and what’s abnormal before you try to check your cervix at home.
In this post, we’ll explain what the cervix is, why you should check your cervix regularly, and how to locate the cervix in the vagina to help you better perform a proper self-check at home.
What is The Cervix?
Aptly, the Latin term for the cervix is cervix uteri, and translates to “the womb’s neck.” Simply put, your cervix is the passageway that connects the uterus to the vagina.
In the vagina, the cervix looks like an O-shaped structure that ranges from 1 to 1.5 inches in length and measures about an inch in diameter. You can also think of it as donut-shaped, as the cervix has a small hole in the middle through which sperm can pass into the uterus and menstrual fluid can flow out through the vagina.
The cervix plays a number of roles in helping you maintain optimal reproductive health. The cervix serves as a passageway for sperm and menstrual blood, but it also helps keep harmful bacteria and viruses from entering the uterus.
Furthermore, the cervix plays an important role in the sexual response: it produces lubrication and contains nerve endings that can make it an epicenter of pleasure for some women.
Why Should You Check Your Cervix?
It’s important to know what your cervix normally feels like to help you identify polyps, cysts, or other changes that could become harmful to your health. However, you should know that the cervix changes position throughout the menstrual cycle in response to hormonal changes, which can affect the way it feels to the touch.
It is normal for your cervix to feel differently on different days of your cycle. For example…
- During the menstrual phase, the cervix feels low, hard, and slightly open. This allows blood to flow from the uterus into the vagina.
- Before ovulation, in the follicular phase, the cervix remains low and hard, but the opening of the cervix — also known as the os — becomes closed. It may produce no discharge or a creamy white or whitish-yellow discharge.
- At ovulation, your most fertile point, the cervix becomes soft and open to allow sperm to enter the uterus and fertilize an egg. It will rise up to the top of the vagina, which can make it difficult to feel, and produce a stretchy, clear discharge similar to the white of an egg.
- If an egg is not fertilized at ovulation, you will enter the luteal phase and the cervix will drop again and become hard and closed once more. As in the follicular phase, your cervix may produce no discharge or a creamy white or whitish-yellow discharge. This remains the same until the next menstrual period.
Learning the patterns of your cervix can help you pinpoint at which stage of your menstrual cycle you are at. This can help you identify your fertile window if you are trying to conceive (TTC) or using the fertility awareness method (FAM) for birth control.
How to Feel Your Cervix
It takes practice to locate your cervix and notice the subtle changes it undergoes throughout your menstrual cycle, but doing so can help you better understand your menstrual cycle and fertility.
It’s important to note that the fertile window is very short — ovulation lasts only 24 hours — so if you are looking to prevent or promote pregnancy, you should check your cervix twice per day. You can check it once in the morning and once at night.
Showering, bathing, or using the bathroom offers a private, quiet moment for you to feel for your cervix. When you check your cervix, you should always take note of the way it feels and any secretions it produces. You can keep a chart of your findings, which can help you better understand your menstrual cycle over time.
Here is how to check your cervix at home:
- Wash your hands well and make sure your fingernails are trimmed and filed, with no sharp edges.
- Get into the same position you use to insert a tampon. If you don’t use tampons, start by squatting in place or standing with one leg on the edge of the bathtub. It is important to relax and breathe deeply.
- Gently insert your pointer or middle finger into the vagina. Reach toward the upper front or top of the vagina and feel for something round and slightly hard. (Note that it can be more difficult to find your cervix when you are fertile, as the cervix rises to the top of the vagina.)
- Notice and record any changes you notice throughout your menstrual cycle, including the way your cervix feels and any secretions (or cervical mucus) it produces. Charting your cervical position and the consistency of your cervical mucus can help you better understand when you are fertile.
When checking your cervix, it is normal to feel a donut-shaped structure in the front or top of your vagina. This structure can be hard or soft, and the opening, or os (the “hole” in the middle of the donut, so to speak), can be open or closed.
The cervix may also produce secretions, or mucus, at different points in your menstrual cycle. This discharge may be clear, white, or whitish-yellow.
During your fertile window, your cervical mucus will become clear, stretchy, and thin, like the texture of an egg white. (This allows sperm to better pass through the vagina and cervix to fertilize an egg.) When you are not fertile, you may notice a creamy discharge that is white or whitish-yellow or little to no discharge at all.
It takes time to notice these changes, but know that in most cases, the changes in your cervix are perfectly normal and you have nothing to worry about.
What Isn’t Normal
Occasionally, you may notice something feels “off” or unusual about the position of your cervix or the mucus your cervix produces. Most of the time, these changes can be attributed to the menstrual cycle and do not require treatment. However, sometimes, you may notice problems when checking your cervix that warrant a trip to the doctor’s office.
Some of the problems you might notice when checking your cervix include:
- Cervical polyps. These may feel like small bumps on the side of your cervix. They are non-cancerous and do not require treatment. Unless you experience other symptoms, like abnormal discharge or bleeding, there is no need to visit the doctor for a cervical polyp.
- Nabothian cysts. Occasionally, small, harmless cysts can also form on the side of your cervix, called “Nabothian cysts.” They may feel like small bumps on the side of your cervix. Like cervical polyps, they are non-cancerous and do not require any treatment. You do not need to visit your doctor about a suspected Nabothian cyst unless you have other symptoms.
- Candidiasis. Yeast infections, as candidiasis is more commonly known, may cause thick, white, cottage cheese-like discharge, as well as itching or pain. If you notice this discharge when you are checking your cervix, visit your doctor to have a swab test performed. Yeast infections are treated with antifungal medications or suppositories.
- Bacterial vaginitis. BV, a bacterial infection of the vagina, can cause thin, grayish discharge that has a fishy odor. It may also cause cervicitis, or inflammation of the cervix, in which case you may notice purulent (pus-like) discharge or abnormal bleeding when checking your cervix. If you notice these symptoms, visit your doctor for a swab test. BV must be treated with antibiotics.
- Trichomoniasis refers to an infection of the vagina caused by the protozoa Trichomonas vaginalis, which can be transmitted by having unprotected sex with an infected person. If you suffer from trichomoniasis, you may notice foul-smelling, frothy, green discharge when checking your cervix. It can also cause small hemorrhages on the cervix, which may lead to abnormal bleeding. See your doctor for a swab test if you have these symptoms. Trichomoniasis is treated with oral or vaginal medication.
- Sexually transmitted infections. STIs include chlamydia and gonorrhea and are transmitted by having unprotected sex with an infected person. You can have these infections without symptoms but might notice abnormal discharge, pain, or bleeding when checking your cervix. They require treatment with antibiotics, so you should always visit your doctor if you suspect you have an STI.
- Cervical cancer. Rarely, problems of the cervix may signify cervical cancer. Many women with cervical cancer do not have symptoms. However, you may notice heavy, watery, bloody discharge when checking your cervix. Abnormal bleeding can have other causes besides cervical cancer. Cervical cancer is more likely if you also suffer from symptoms like unexplained pain after sex, swelling of the legs, problems urinating or having a bowel movement, or blood in the urine. See a doctor immediately if you think you may have cervical cancer. They can perform a Pap test to check for cancerous cells on the cervix.
Symptoms like discharge or abnormal bleeding can be scary, but they are usually not caused by something serious. Thankfully, vaginal infections that cause cervical changes are highly treatable, and even cervical cancer can be treated successfully if caught early. If you experience any of these symptoms, your best bet is to visit your doctor to discuss your concerns and undergo any recommended testing to rule out harmful conditions affecting the cervix.
✔️ Medically Reviewed by Banafsheh Kashani, MD, FACOG
Banafsheh Kashani, M.D., FACOG is a board-certified OB/GYN and specialist in reproductive endocrinology and infertility at Eden Fertility Centers, and has been treating couples and individuals with infertility since 2014. Prior to joining Eden Centers for Advanced Fertility, she was practicing as a top fertility specialist at Kaiser Permanente in Orange County and Reproductive Fertility Center. Dr. Kashani has received numerous awards throughout her years of study and medical training.
Dr. Kashani has conducted extensive research in female reproduction, with a specific focus on the endometrium and implantation. Additionally, Dr. Kashani has authored papers in the areas of fertility preservation, and fertility in women with PCOS and Turners syndrome. She also was part of a large SART-CORS study evaluating the trend in frozen embryo transfers and success rates.
Dr. Kashani is a fellow of the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. In addition, she is a diplomat of the American Board of Obstetrics and Gynecology and an active member of the American Society of Reproductive Medicine (ASRM) and Pacific Coast Reproductive Society (PCRS). She is also a member of the Society of Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility (SREI).