Did you know that the position and texture of your cervix changes during your menstrual cycle? You can learn how to monitor these changes to you cervix so that you can predict your most fertile windows and increase your chances of conception.
Cervical position tracking can be used throughout the month to help you to predict your most fertile windows. Done right it can let you know when ovulation is about to occur, or even indicate whether you’re pregnant. It can be used by itself, or in conjunction with monitoring cervical mucus and/or basal body temperature.
Keep in mind that if you track cervical position and ovulation for a year, if you are under age 35– or for six months, if you are over 35–and you don’t successfully get pregnant, you should consult with a fertility doctor.
How to check your cervical position
Checking the cervical position takes some practice. A good time to try is after a bath or shower.
First, wash your hands well and trim your nails.
Next, get into position. Sitting on the toilet or squatting or standing with one leg on the edge of the bathtub are good positions. Use the same position each time you check your cervix.
Gently insert one or two fingers into the vagina. Feel for the cervix – located in the upper front or top.
With practice, you will start to notice the changes your cervix goes through during monthly cycles. Because every woman’s cycle is different, including the lengths of each different phase, it may take several cycles before you get to know your body. Some women are squeamish about checking during bleeding and wait until menstrual flow stops.
Cervical position changes throughout your cycle
The position and texture of your cervix will change during your cycle.
Here’s what to keep track of during each phase:
During menstrual bleeding, the cervix is normally low and hard and slightly open to allow the blood to flow out. It feels like the tip of your nose.
After your period stops, the cervix remains low and hard and the opening to the uterus (uterine os) remains closed.
As you approach ovulation, the cervix rises up to the top of the vagina and becomes softer and moister.
At the height of ovulation, you are at your most fertile. The cervix feels more like your lips than your nose, and the uterine os is open to allow sperm to enter. Sometimes the cervix seems to disappear, which just means it has become so soft that it blends in with the vaginal walls and rises so high that the finger cannot touch it. This is known as SHOW: soft, high, open, and wet. This is the optimal time to have sex to achieve pregnancy.
Once ovulation occurs, the cervix drops lower and becomes more firm, once again feeling like the tip of your nose. The opening to the uterus will become tightly closed. This can happen immediately after ovulation, or may take several hours to several days.
When pregnancy occurs, the cervix will rise up and become soft, yet the uterine os will remain tightly closed. This occurs at different times for different women – as early as 12 days after ovulation or well after the pregnancy has been confirmed by a home pregnancy test or doctor.
Dr. Alan Copperman is a board-certified reproductive endocrinologist and infertility specialist with a long history of success in treating infertility and applying fertility preservation technologies. He serves as Medical Director of Progyny, a leading fertility benefits management company, and co-founded and serves as Medical Director of RMA of New York, one of the largest and most prestigious IVF centers in the country. Dr. Copperman is also the Vice Chairman and Director of Infertility for the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, and Chief Medical Officer of Sema4, a health information company. Dr. Copperman has been named to New York magazine’s list of Best Doctors 17 years in a row. He has been recognized by his peers and patient advocacy organizations for his commitment to patient-focused and data-driven care. He has published more than 100 original manuscripts and book chapters on reproductive medicine and has co-authored over 300 scientific abstracts on infertility, in vitro fertilization, egg freezing, ovum donation, and reproductive genetics.