What Should Your Cervix Feel Like in Early Pregnancy?
When you’re trying to conceive, scrutinizing symptoms throughout your luteal phase for signs of early pregnancy can be tempting -- sometimes even an obsession. However, before you begin examining your cervical position and texture each day, keep in mind that it isn’t a reliable indicator of pregnancy.
Function of the Cervix
The cervix serves as a passageway between the uterus and vagina and produces cervical fluid. During infertile phases of each cycle, it produces very little or sticky and tacky cervical fluid that presents a hostile environment for sperm. During a woman's fertile period, the fluid produced by the cervix becomes clear and slippery, providing an agreeable environment, helping the sperm to reach its destination 2.
In pregnancy, the cervix keeps the uterus closed to sustain the pregnancy and a mucus plug that forms during pregnancy helps to prevent the transfer of germs and bacteria into the uterus to protect the developing fetus 4. As the due date approaches, the cervix begins to soften and thin before shortening and dilating to allow the infant passage from the birth canal.
Normal Cervical Changes
During a woman’s infertile periods -- prior to and following ovulation -- the cervix remains in a lower position in the vagina and feels relatively firm 1. As ovulation approaches, the cervix moves higher, softens and opens to allow easier passage for the sperm to reach the egg before returning to its lower, firm position once again. If conception takes places, the cervix often softens a little and rises higher again. Women may experience cervical twinges at this stage.
Tracking changes in your cervix is not a reliable indicator of pregnancy, according to the BabyMed website 4. The change that often takes place early in pregnancy does not happen consistently for all women. For some, it takes place earlier or later, and for others, a pregnant cervix feels no different than a non-pregnant cervix 4. Furthermore, checking your cervix on a regular basis without rigorous hand-washing can introduce bacteria into the vaginal environment, potentially leading to infection, which is particularly unfavorable in early pregnancy.
Pregnancy Clues and Confirmation
While checking the position and firmness of your cervix is an unreliable and potentially hazardous method of detecting pregnancy, there are symptoms to track for more reliable methods of pregnancy detection 4. Monitor your basal body temperature each month, which will rise about 0.4 to 1 degrees Fahrenheit following ovulation and stay elevated until a few days prior to menstruation. If your period is late and your temperature stays elevated, it may be an early pregnancy clue. Alternatively, wait until your period is late and use a home pregnancy test. If the result is negative but your period remains late, check again in a few days or make an appointment with your health care provider for a blood test.
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