Understanding Your Cervix to Track Fertility
Your body is constantly sending you signals and information to help you decode and understand what’s going on inside of you. These signs can give you insight into everything from your gut health to hormonal imbalances. You can also use your body’s signs to help you decode your menstrual cycle and learn when you are or aren’t ovulating.
Getting to Know Your Cervix
Ovulation is when your ovary releases an egg. That egg is either fertilized, which is the beginning stages of pregnancy, or if not, then your period comes around two weeks later. All sorts of changes happen during ovulation. You may have sore breasts, breakouts, a “glow” in your face, and some people experience mild discomfort and spotting.
Some other huge changes that happen during ovulation are around your cervix. This is a donut-shaped organ that lies between your vagina and your uterus. The cervix has a lot of important jobs, from protecting your uterus from infections to helping dilate and make space for babies to be born. They can also be the source of massive amounts of pleasure. Case in point – cervical orgasms.
But back to ovulation. How does your cervix change throughout your cycle? And how can you learn how to track it to better understand your fertility and ovulation? Time to find out!
Tracking Ovulation and Fertility
The female body is pretty magical. Not only can it carry life and all sorts of other fun things, but it constantly changes throughout your menstrual cycle and your life. So how does your cervix change throughout your cycle, and especially during ovulation?
Cervical Height and Softness: Your cervix typically moves up and down throughout your cycle. During menstruation, it may be lower in your body and more firm to allow for blood flow. Estrogen levels near ovulation can cause the cervix to get pulled up further into the body making it higher and more difficult to reach. It’s also usually softer, more centrally aligned in the body, and slightly open. After ovulation, the cervix usually becomes lower, firmer, and hard again until your period.
Cervical Mucus: Another key change to track is your cervical mucus or fluids. Hormonal changes throughout your cycle cause the fluids produced and excreted by your cervix to change, especially around ovulation. Before ovulation, your cervical mucus is typically dry white and thick. Then right before ovulation it typically becomes slippery and clear like an egg white (this usually means you’re fertile). This type of mucus can continue for a couple of days after ovulation.
You can look at a cervical mucus chart to help you understand better.
DIY: Tracking Your Cervical Changes
The thing with cervical tracking is that you have to be willing to get up close and personal with your body – there’s no shame in that! Here are the ways you can track your cervical changes during your cycle:
- Cervical location: With your fingers, feel all the way up your vagina to where your cervix is. It may feel like the tip of your nose, or more like pursed lips during ovulation. Do this at different points in your cycle. Remember that your cervix is typically higher and softer during ovulation, you can tell this by remembering how far your finger goes before it hits your cervix.
- Cervical mucus: Pay attention to what your cervical fluid looks like throughout your cycle. You can do this by using your fingers and paying attention to your underwear.
- With a mirror: If you’re feeling especially adventurous, you can get to know your cervix using a speculum, mirror, flashlight, and lube. You can get a kit through organizations like Beautiful Cervix Project.
Remember to wash your hands before and after touching your cervix, you don’t want an infection up there! It can take a few months to get to know how your cervix changes throughout your cycle. You can track these changes using a cycle journal or a fertility tracking app. Remember that everyone’s body is different, so yours might not follow the exact changes we discussed, but it will most likely have some sort of pattern. If you’re on hormonal birth control, your cervix may not go through the same changes, however, you can still get to know it on a personal level!
Teamwork is The Dreamwork
Whether you’re hoping to get pregnant, or trying not to, it’s incredibly helpful to have multiple methods that you use together to track your fertility. Other methods you can utilize are tracking your basal temperature (link when article is published), using hormone-based home fertility tests, and tracking other signs of ovulation like your mood, breasts, and energy levels.
You’re typically fertile for three to five days before ovulation, during ovulation, and potentially the 48 hours following it. If you’re using cervical tracking along with other methods of fertility tracking to help prevent pregnancy, remember that they’re not foolproof. It’s important to still take precautions like using condoms around ovulation or other methods of birth control.
For people who have a new partner or have multiple partners, you should also take necessary precautions to help prevent sexually transmitted infections, STIs, like regular testing and communication about your and your partner’s status.
Natasha (she/her) is a full-spectrum doula and health+wellness copywriter. Her work focuses on deconstructing the shame, stigma, and barriers people carry around birth, sex, health, and beyond, to help people navigate through their lives with more education and empowerment. You can connect with Natasha on IG @natasha.s.weiss.