How to Check Your Cervix and Cervical Position

The cervix changes in early pregnancy and throughout the menstrual cycle

Cervical signs of fertile days

Verywell / Gary Ferster 

Learning how to check your cervix is easier than you think—and can be helpful if you'd like to monitor cervical changes that may indicate ovulation, early pregnancy, or labor. It may sound like something only taught to doctors and nurses, but there’s no reason a person can’t learn where their cervix is and how to notice changes in cervical position. Learn more about how to check your cervix during the menstrual cycle and for pregnancy.

Why Check Your Cervix

There are many different reasons why you might want to check your cervix and monitor how its position changes.


If you're trying to get pregnant, checking your cervical position can provide key information to help identify your fertile window (or the ideal time to have sex for the best chance to conceive). Your cervix goes through subtle changes throughout your menstrual cycle.

Cervical changes can help you to detect ovulation, determine when you're most fertile, and indicate when ovulation has likely already occurred.

Early Pregnancy

Your cervix also changes during early pregnancy due to hormonal shifts and increased blood flow to the area. However, it's hard to distinguish between the changes that occur due to impending ovulation and pregnancy. So, checking your cervix is not a definitive way to tell if you're pregnant. Other symptoms, such as breast tenderness, nausea, tiredness, and lack of a period, are more noticeable and reliable in early pregnancy.


The cervix makes its most dramatic changes in late pregnancy and childbirth. You probably know this from the movies. When the television doctors say "They're 10 centimeters," they are talking about dilation of the cervix.

The cervix shortens, thins, and dilates during childbirth. It morphs from being tightly shut and hard at the start of pregnancy to 10 centimeters wide and completely effaced (or thinned out) at birth. It is possible for you to notice these changes yourself. Note that some people start dilating weeks before they go into labor, and others don't begin until days or hours before delivery. So, noticing a few centimeters of dilation doesn't necessarily mean labor is imminent—but it could be!

Tips for Checking Your Cervix

Don’t expect to understand what you’re feeling the first, second, or even tenth time you try checking your cervix. This is a skill that comes from practice and patience. But once you learn what the signs are, you’ll be a pro.

  • Don’t check your cervical position during or after sex. Your cervix moves around according to your level of sexual arousal, regardless of where you are in your menstrual cycle.
  • When you’re just learning, try to check your cervical position every so many days, even when you don’t think you’re ovulating. It’s easier to find when you’re not ovulating, and you’ll have a better idea of what you’re feeling.
  • Check your cervical position at the same time every day. It may be a good time to do it when you get dressed in the morning or during/after your shower.

Step-by-Step Instructions

Whether you're checking your cervix for ovulation, during pregnancy, or simply out of curiosity, there are steps you can take to locate and record the position of your cervix. If you're feeling nervous, don't be. You’re not going to hurt yourself.

Here's how to get started:

  1. Wash your hands very well. It’s vital that you don’t introduce any kind of infection into your reproductive system. If you’re dealing with a yeast infection or any other kind of vaginal infection, you should wait for the infection to clear up before checking your cervix.
  2. Take precautions. If you're in labor and want to check your cervix, keep in mind that repeated checks can introduce bacteria, something you do not want. This is especially true if your water has already broken. While you can check your cervix yourself, don't check too often, and always make sure your hands are very clean.
  3. Find a comfortable position. Your body position should allow you to easily reach your cervix. That may be sitting on the toilet, putting one leg up on the edge of the bathtub, or squatting.
  4. Reach your finger inside your vagina. Use the index or middle finger and slowly slide your finger in as far as you can reach, in sort of an upward motion. If you think of your vagina as a hallway, your cervix is the door at the end.
  5. Locate the cervix. While your vagina has a sort of spongy feel that gives way to pressure, the cervix is like a firm, round dimple. If you’re not close to ovulation, you should find your cervix easily. If you are ovulating, your cervix may be higher in your body, softer, and more difficult to reach.
  6. Record your cervical position. Keep these notes on a fertility chart. Taking note of what you feel will not only help you understand and track the changes better, but it will also help you detect your fertile window.

What to Look For

There are several changes you are feeling for when checking your cervix. As you get more comfortable with the process, try to look for these changes.

Tissue Softness

Does your cervix feel soft or firm? Estrogen softens the cervical tissue, making it feel softer (or less firm) when you're most fertile. Some say it feels like the tip of your nose when you’re not fertile and like the firmness of your lips when you are fertile.

Cervical Opening

Is your cervix open or closed? Your cervix will be just slightly open just before ovulation. The opening is tiny—no more than a thin slit. It will open again just before and during menstruation. However, during your period, the cervix will be lower in the vagina (and not higher, like it is before ovulation).

If your cervix always feels slightly open, don’t worry. Especially if you’ve ever given birth (that can include a miscarriage), your cervix may never fully close. As ovulation approaches, you’ll still be able to notice the height and softness changes of the cervix, though.

Cervical Position

You'll want to notice if your cervix's position is high, medium, or low. As you approach ovulation, your cervix moves up and back. In some cases, it may be so high that you can't reach it.

Some people try to figure out if they’re pregnant by checking their cervical position. Unfortunately, there is no way to know whether you’re pregnant by checking your cervical position. You just have to wait until you can take a pregnancy test.

  • A cervix that is high, soft, and open is a fertile cervix.
  • A cervix that is low, firm and closed is not a fertile sign, and you’re probably not ovulating yet—or you have already ovulated.

Cervical Mucus

When you're checking your cervical position, you should also pay attention to your cervical mucus. The same hormones that change your cervix also affect cervical mucus. Also known as cervical fluid or vaginal discharge, your cervical mucus changes as you approach ovulation.

Paying attention to several ovulation signs is the best way to detect your most fertile time. Research has found that having sex when you have fertile cervical mucus may be the best way to time sex for pregnancy.

Checking for Cervical Dilation

If you're pregnant and getting close to your due date, you may be hoping to determine when you'll go into labor by checking your cervical dilation. Some pregnant people hope they can determine if they are going into labor. However, as noted above, it's important to use extra caution when checking your cervix for signs of dilation so that you don't inadvertently introduce germs that could cause infection.

Many gynecologists will check the cervix at every well-check appointment in the last month of pregnancy. They may tell you how your cervix is changing, along with the baby's "station."

You might assume these are signs you'll go into labor soon—but actually, they're not. You can be dilated 3 centimeters for your last three weeks but not go into labor until your due date or later. And you can also have no cervical dilation until the day you give birth and then dilate to 10 centimeters quickly.

A Word From Verywell

You don't need to check your cervix to get pregnant or know when you're dilating. That said, learning to evaluate your cervix can help you connect with your body and boost your chance of identifying your fertile window or when dilation has started. You may also notice changes to the cervix in early pregnancy, but there are much more reliable ways to know if you've conceived, such as simply taking a pregnancy test.

7 Sources
Verywell Family uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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Additional Reading

By Rachel Gurevich, RN
Rachel Gurevich is a fertility advocate, author, and recipient of The Hope Award for Achievement, from Resolve: The National Infertility Association. She is a professional member of the Association of Health Care Journalists and has been writing about women’s health since 2001. Rachel uses her own experiences with infertility to write compassionate, practical, and supportive articles.