What Does a Fertile Cervix Look and Feel Like?

How Ovulation Changes Its Position and Characteristic

Illustrations of cervical opening in woman who has given birth and who has never given birth

Morphart Creation/Shutterstock

Your cervix looks and feels different when it's in the fertile stage of your menstrual cycle. You can use this information to detect ovulation. It's easier than you may think. When your cervix is high, soft and open, you are getting closer to ovulation. Your cervical mucus will also change and transform into a more raw egg white consistency

But what does it mean to have a high, soft, or open cervix? What does a cervix look like or feel like? Here are some insights and tips that can help:

General Anatomy

When we talk about "checking your cervix", we're talking about the part of the cervix visualized during a gynecological exam. The cervix isn't just the end that you can feel but one that extends up further into the body, serving as a pathway from the vagina to your uterus. 

The cervix is a cylinder-shaped neck of tissue about 3 to 5 centimeters long. Both the length and position of the cervix change throughout your menstrual cycle, throughout pregnancy, and even during sexual intercourse. During childbirth, the cervix significantly shortens ("thins") in a process that is referred to as effacement. 

If you feel around with your fingertips, the external portion of the cervix, called the ectocervix, bulges out into the top of the vagina. The "dimple" at the center is known as the external os.

Your cervix is located at the opposite end of the vaginal opening. If your vagina is a hallway, the cervix is the locked door at the end.

Physical Characteristics

Imagine that your cervix a small rubber ball about 3 centimeters, or 1 inch, in diameter. In the center of the cervix is a small indentation (the external os).

The external os can vary from one woman to the next. It may be round or shaped like a horizontal dimple. It may have a slight opening or be tightly shut. The opening itself may feel smooth or have a more jagged-edged feel.

Generally speaking, the smoothness and moistness of the cervix would be similar to the tissues lining your cheek. In terms of consistency, if gently pressed, it may feel as firm as the tip of your nose or as soft as your lips.

Changes During Ovulation

Your cervix will not always feel the same or be in the same position. Sometimes it will be low and easy to reach. At other times, it may be so high that your fingertips cannot reach it.

As ovulation approaches, your cervix will typically change positions, moving higher up into the body. It does so because your reproductive system is transitioning into positions that are ideal for sex and conception. By contrast, when ovulation has occurred and your fertile time has passed, the cervix will drop lower and be easier to reach.

The texture and consistency of the cervix will also change. When you're especially fertile, the cervix will become softer and returns its normal consistency once the fertile period has passed. The cervix will also become far moister around the time ovulation. This is from the secretion of cervical fluids, which creates the ideal environment for sex and semen.

Not only will the texture and position of the cervix change, but so will the opening. When you are ovulating, the external os will feel more open. This simply allows for the easier passage of semen into the uterus. 

Sexual arousal will also have an effect on the cervical position, no matter where you are in your cycle.




Cervical Mucus

If you could see your cervix, you would notice the accumulation of mucus near the opening. Cervical mucus is an extremely important part of your reproductive system. When you're ovulating, cervical mucus contains nourishment for sperm, maintains a healthier pH balance for their survival, and provides them an easier passage into the uterus. 

When you're not ovulating, the cervical fluids will thicker and stickier. This is considered protective, in the same way that nasal mucus protects the respiratory tract from foreign organisms.

Tracking changes in your cervical mucus during your cycle can help you pinpoint your most fertile days when trying to get pregnant.

It is also important to note that cervical secretions also keep the vagina clean. As such, it is wholly unnecessary to use soap and water to wash the vagina. This may, in fact, cause harm.

Douching strips away natural vaginal secretions, increasing the risk of irritation or infection while removing cervical fluids meant to promote fertilization and conception.

Examining Your Cervix

If you want to have an up-close look at your cervix, it is possible to do so using a speculum, a flashlight, and a mirror or smartphone. You can purchase an expensive speculum online at Amazon or many sex toy shops. There are also self-exam kits you can purchase online.

Every speculum works slightly different, so be sure to read the instructions carefully or speak with your gynecologist. There are three things you should keep in mind:

  • Practice opening, locking, and unlocking the speculum several times before trying to insert it inside yourself.
  • Wash the speculum before and between uses with gentle soap and warm water.
  • Use lubricant. Place the lubricant on your vulva, and avoid thick oil-based lubricants like KY Jelly. A water-based lubricant works best.

You can perform the self-exam on yourself but a have a partner assist you. It is okay to be curious, be gentle and patient. Do not rush or go beyond what feels comfortable.

A cervical self-exam should never be considered a replacement for a routinely schedule pelvic exam with your OB/GYN.

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Article Sources
  • Ellis, H. Anatomy of the uterus. Anes Intensive Care Med. 2011:12(3):99-101. DOI: 10.1016/j.mpaic.2010.11.005.