- The cervix connects the vagina and the uterus
- The cervix is approximately 2cm long
- It is made up of muscle and connective tissue
- There are two main parts
- The Endocervix – inner lining leading to the uterus
- The Ectocervix – outer part that connects with the vagina
- Two types of cells line the cervix
- Columnar Cells – These are glandular cells found in the endocervix and responsible for making the cervical mucus. As the name suggests these cells are shaped like columns
- Squamous Cells – These cells line the ectocervix and vagina. They are flat and thin shaped like fish scales
- There is an area known as the squamo-columnar junction or transformation zone – this is an area of constantly changing cells and where cervical cancer begins
Produces Mucus for protection and reproduction - The cervix produces mucus in the endocervix. The mucus protects the uterus from bacterial infection. However it is also highly effective at stopping sperm from entering the uterus.
Thankfully the body is designed for reproductive purposes and every month around ovulation the mucus changes. Throughout the menstrual cycle it is possible to notice these changes. At certain times you will notice the mucus to be thicker and other times it will be thinner.
The thinner mucus allows sperm to pass into the uterus where conception can occur.
Supports Passage of Sperm into Uterus – Besides changing the mucus consistency to support conception, the cells of endocervix also projects hairlike structures called cilia that along with the thinner mucus help facilitate the movement of sperm through the cervix canal.
Gateway during menstruation and birth - Each month during menstruating age, most women will experience a shedding of the uterus lining. The lining passes through the cervix on its release from the body.
During labour and birth, the cervix widens (dilates) to allow the passage of a baby through the birth canal.
Facts about the Cervix and Cervical Mucus
- Consists mainly of water, sugars, starches, and proteins
- Lysozyme is also present in cervical mucus and helps to protect against infection by destroying certain types of bacteria
- Oestrogen stimulates the production of cervical mucus
- Cervical mucus changes consistency throughout the menstrual cycle
- The Cervix also changes throughout the menstrual cycle
- A women can avoid or increase her chances of becoming pregnant by observing changes in her cervix and cervical mucus
Blake, Clare, 2018 Fertility Massage Handbook, Fertility Massage Therapy, UK
Canadian Cancer Society, 2018 Anatomy and Physiology of the Cervix
view online October 2018 http://www.cancer.ca/en/cancer-information/cancer-type/cervical/cervical-cancer/the-cervix/?region=on
Marquette University, 2018 Monitoring Your Cervical Mucus, Marquette University viewed online October 2018 https://nfp.marquette.edu/monitor_cervical_mucus.php
The Editors of Encyclopaedia Britannica, 2014 The Uterine Cervix, Encyclopædia Britannica, Encyclopædia Britannica, inc. viewed online October 2018 https://www.britannica.com/science/uterine-cervix
Thompson, Louisa, 2017 The Cervix, Teach Me Anatomy The Teach Me Series, viewed online October 2018 https://teachmeanatomy.info/pelvis/female-reproductive-tract/cervix/