Lots of people discover early in life that touching their genitals feels good. But exploring your body doesn’t have to stop when you hit puberty — it can be a lifelong adventure! A part of your body called the cervix is important to reproductive health, but it can also play a key role in sexual pleasure.
Want to get to know your cervix better? Here’s a self-help guide for your cervical health awareness!
What’s a cervix?
Your cervix is a cushion of tissue that sits at the top of your vaginal canal, between your vagina and your uterus. Think of your uterus like it’s an upside-down pear — the cervix is the smaller end of the pear. It plays an important role in pregnancy, birth, and menstruation, and it also acts as a barrier to prevent bacteria from getting into the uterus.
The cervix has a tiny opening at its center, called the cervical os, that allows period blood to come out of the uterus and sperm to go in. The os is as small as an earring hole in a pierced earlobe, and it only gets big enough for something solid to pass through during labor or when a nurse or doctor uses medication and/or medical devices to dilate (open) the cervix — like during an IUD insertion or abortion. This is why things like tampons can’t get “lost” inside your vagina.
Your cervix also makes cervical mucus that affects your fertility. The amount of cervical mucus and the way it looks changes depending on where you’re at in your menstrual cycle, especially around ovulation. During ovulation (AKA “fertile days”), cervical mucus can help sperm get to an egg. On the flip side, hormonal birth control can change your cervical mucus so it’s harder for sperm to move — that’s how it helps prevent pregnancy. Some cervical mucus also comes out in your vaginal discharge, which is how your vagina keeps itself clean and healthy.
Meet Your Cervix
Feeling your cervix at different times can give you an idea of how it changes during your menstrual cycle, and how it responds to touch and sexual arousal.
Feel and See
The cervix sits at the back of your vaginal canal. It can feel like the tip of a nose with a dimple in the middle, and it kind of looks like a tiny donut.
- You can feel your cervix by gently putting one or two clean or gloved fingers deep into your vagina (make sure you don’t have any sharp or jagged edges on your nails). Using lube may make this more comfortable.
- Seeing your cervix can be a little trickier, but it’s possible. Gently open your vagina with a lubed-up speculum, and use a mirror to peek inside (your doctor or nurse can give you tips on how to use a speculum). You can also ask your doctor if they can give you a mirror and help you see your cervix during your next pelvic exam
Depending on where you are in your menstrual cycle, you may feel changes in your cervical mucus, the position of your cervix, and the texture of your cervix (soft to firm).
- Your cervix usually sits lower in your vagina during your period, so it might be easier to feel then.
- During ovulation, the cervix “retreats” (pulls back deeper or higher in your vagina) and can be harder to reach.
- These changes in the position of your cervix may affect how sex or penetration feels.
- You can track these changes by feeling your cervix when you’re in different states of the sexual response cycle: relaxed, feeling desire, close to orgasm, and — if you can swing it — during orgasm.
- If you’re really turned on, you may notice that your cervix is farther away from your vaginal opening. That’s because your uterus pulls up and your vagina gets longer when you’re super sexually excited (fun fact: this is called “tenting”).
- During orgasm, your cervix might feel like it’s bobbing back and forth.
What is cervical stimulation?
Cervical stimulation means touching your cervix in a way that gives you pleasure. Stimulating the cervix with a finger, sex toy, or penis can feel really good and even lead to an orgasm. But it can also feel neutral, annoying, or painful. Everybody’s different, and people can experience different feelings at different times. If cervical stimulation isn't your thing, that’s OK — there are plenty of other ways to explore your body and sexual pleasure.
If you want to explore cervical stimulation, it’s a good idea to go slow and be gentle at first, and start with foreplay and/or masturbation to make sure you’re really turned on. And of course, good ol’ lube can be helpful.
- You or your partner can lightly touch or bump your cervix with a clean finger or sex toy.
- During sex, you can use positions that let your partner’s penis or strap-on go deep into your vagina and touch your cervix.
- If light touch feels good and you want to increase the pressure, go for it. But make sure you’re communicating with your partner along the way, and stop immediately if anything hurts or feels uncomfortable. Good sex is about understanding how your body works and feeling pleasure, not pushing yourself past your limits.
If penetration is so deep that it causes pain, stop. Sex that’s too forceful can rarely — but possibly — make your cervix feel bruised. This usually isn’t serious, and it should go away pretty quickly. But if you have pain in your cervix that lasts more than a week, or if you often feel pain during sex, see a nurse or doctor (like the ones at your local Planned Parenthood health center) to make sure everything’s all good down there.
More on Cervical Health
Whether or not you decide to explore your cervix, it's important to take care of it like any other part of your body. Get some tips on keeping your cervix healthy, and learn more about screenings that can help prevent cervical cancer.