Definition - What does Cervix mean?
The cervix is the sheath of tissue that acts as a barrier between the uterus and vagina. During a woman’s monthly cycle, the cervix rotates, opens, and closes in conjunction with phases of menstruation, ovulation, and non-fertility. These rotations can be used to track a woman’s fertility window.
The cervix is also responsible for the creation of cervical mucus, or vaginal discharge, which can aid in the health of the vagina and transmission of sperm into the uterus. Certain conditions of the cervix may complicate or impede pregnancy.
FertilitySmarts explains Cervix
The cervix is positioned at the back of the vagina at the base of the uterus. It is a circular organ with a small hole in the center, similar to a donut. The cervix plays an important role in a woman’s monthly cycle. The cervix rotates in accordance with phases of the menstrual cycle, and the small hole at the center opens and closes.
- During menstruation, the hole is slightly open, allowing for the outward passage of menstrual blood.
- During ovulation, the hole opens to allow the inward passage of sperm.
- During non-fertile periods, the cervix hole remains closed.
Additionally, the cervix secrets a mucus commonly known as vaginal discharge. This mucus plays an important role in assisting fertile and non-fertile periods. During ovulation, the cervix produces mucus that aids in the longevity of sperm, providing an environment for sperm to live up to five days in the woman’s body.
The presence of this mucus extends a woman’s fertility window and promotes the likelihood of conception. However, during non-fertile periods, the cervical mucus acts as an additional barrier, stopping sperm or other foreign matter from progressing through the vaginal canal.
It is possible to monitor a woman’s fertility window by tracking changes in cervical mucus and cervical position. This can assist in fertility awareness planning to increase or decrease a woman’s chances of becoming pregnant.
Any trauma or abnormality of the cervix could disrupt fertility and prevent conception. The most common cervical conditions include:
- Cervical polyps and cysts
- Pelvic inflammatory disease (PID)
- Cervical incompetence
- Cervical dysplasia
- Human papillomavirus (HPV)
- Cervical cancer