Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Lesson on Female Anatomy (Part 2): What's a Cervix?

Artwork Credit
I'm back with another lesson on female anatomy, this time (drum roll please) the cervix. Some of you may remember back in July when I wrote a lesson on female anatomy entitled 'You have 3 holes not 2' where I tell the story of a roommate who discovered that she does in fact pee from a separate hole to her vagina.


Why is it so dang important to know this stuff about your body. Well, one reason would be so that you don't freak out when you go exploring and think there's something wrong with you. Another reason is that we have to pass it on.
When you have a daughter you really need to be very clear on this information so she doesn't end up like you, ya know, thinking that she "played" a bit too much and created a cataclysmic event because there's now a hole inside her vagina she never knew about before ... and she's too afraid to even ask you what it is because the catholic guilt is eating away at her.

It's just a cervix, no biggie, it's just the remarkable hole that a lot of us passed through on our way into the world. I'm not embarrassed to say that I once had no idea what the cervix was, or what it meant when a woman was '10 cm's dilated in labour.'
When I was trying to get pregnant with Charlie I went searching on Dr Google the internet for ovulation tips. One of the most helpful, informative, and fascinating websites I came across was www.beautifulcervix.com.
I've shown it to some friends who think it's incredible and so informative, and then to other friends who flinch away in horror and disgust at photos showing a woman's insides. Yes, you heard right. There are photos of the inside of vaginas, and that means your see what a cervix really looks like. Incredible and amazing, not disgusting. Ok fine, seeing someone having their period is a little bit gross, but still so damn fascinating because it's on the inside.
What did I think it looked like before seeing these photos? I guess I imagined the cut view, like above, meaning anything can just go willy nilly into the Uterus. I guess sperm have a harder job than I ever realised before. 
Remember being a teenager and wondering if you'd lose a tampon up there and being told that couldn't happen but wondering why that couldn't happen? Or hearing some weird story only teenagers would tell, about the girl who put a frozen hot dog wiener up there and lost it?
Well freaky teens, your frozen hot dog's can breath a sigh of relief because both of the above mentioned are physically impossible and here's why:
The cervix is a very narrow cylinder-shaped neck of tissue that connects the vagina and the uterus. It's the very narrow hallway from the living room to the kitchen, so to speak, a tunnel. The only time it widens enough to let anything that big in or out is for a baby to be born. It does widen ever so slightly when you ovulate to let the sperm in too but nothing like the size of a baby's head when you're in labour. 
Now you have to go see the real-life photos to know what I am talking about, (*too graphic to show you here). A 25 yr old woman (with some help) takes one photo of her cervix every day of her cycle. If you are trying to get pregnant this is really useful because you get to see what your cervical fluid should look like when you're ovulating (i.e: your egg is ready for some spermy action). 
The woman below left a comment on the Beautiful Cervix website. She had given birth and still not known what her cervix was (the place her baby passed through): "... i’m glad i found this site i’ve been checking the inside of my vagina lately since i’ve had some yeast infection problems that wont go away i’ve had a baby one year now.and so when i put my finger inside i felt a big bump like with a hole in it and it was to the left its like i have to go around it to pass and go further up inside my vigina i was really worrying about it and when i looked at my vigina in the mirror it looked like there was a bulge showing i’ve been meaning to see my gyna because i was beginning to worry that its the infection thats been causing it all plz i need to hear from u."
Image Credit: Getty
Why aren't we taught this? The poor woman didn't know what the heck the bump was that she was feeling with her finger; the bump she describes is her cervix and feels like the end of a nose.
What a useful educational tool this website is for so many women and teen girls. Please share this post  to get the word out about our bodies. I think a lot of us are just pretending we have this stuff figured out. It's so sad so many of us feel embarrassment or shame about this part of our bodies. Let's get talking, ladies!

29 comments:

  1. Great breakfast post! LOL. Just kidding, this is great. It's amazing how much of a mystery all of our reproductive junk is. As mysterious as what's under the hood of my Ford Escape.

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  2. I think a lot of young girls trying to figure out their bodies would find a lot of value in this post. I have seen that Beautiful Cervix site before and it is pretty amazing stuff. I agree it's important to be educated about our bodies and to ensure our children are educated too.

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  3. Great post! We should all know a lot more about our bodies from a young age- they are a marvel, nothing to cringe about at all. :) I'll definitely share this post later on :)

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  4. I had pre cancerous cells on my cervix and had lletz surgery (laser) to remove a big wedge of it. All before I carried my two babies without issue. It is great to be teaching women about their bodies :)

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  5. @Dani Netherclift That seems so incredible that they caught that? Hooray! Thanks for the feedback too.

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  6. @HandbagMafia Thank you so much! Really appreciate that.

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  7. @Renee at Mummy, Wife, Me When I discovered their website I showed my (at the time) 16 yr and 14 yr old sister inlaws. I told them - no one will teach you this and you MUST know it now rather than when you're 30!

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  8. @Hugzilla. Oh dea, I didn't consider breakfast. Nothing like looking at a bloody cervix (quite literally) at breakfast time. How to OBGYN's do it? OH I know. They get paid a crap load. Money helps.

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  9. So ironic that we live in these bodies but some of us haven't a clue what is going on because they just don't need to. It is when things are going wrong or not going as per high school sex ed does a woman need to do some of her own plotting, charting and investigation.

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  10. I agree. I'm too curious to not find things out eventually @Karin @ CalmtoConniption

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  11. Interesting! I'm a nurse by trade so I guess I learnt pretty early. I'll be helping to pass all the info on to 2 boys as they get older. At the moment I'm just answering questions like, "why don't you have a penis Mum?"

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  12. Oh that poor woman! Having a baby and still no idea!
    I have every intention of passing this info on to my girls. It's too important not to.

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  13. @Michelle@myslowlivingadventure And the answer to that one? I have a 16 month old boy who I know will be asking me eventually. You gotta let me know what to say.

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  14. Hooray! Good to hear, Jess. I'd like to think our generation is more in the know, but unfortunately I've had too many conversations with women our age who didn't know these things ...

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  15. Now you need to write about cervical mucous! Into adulthood I wondered wtf the stuff in my undies was and why it was there. I even asked the doc about it in high school because I was so concerned and he just said "it's normal".
    I think all girls need to know the whole story about their cycle. Not just "once a month aunt flo will visit and you'll grow pubes"

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  16. I knew nothing about this as a teen/young woman. My mum certainly didn't go into THAT much detail with the sex talk. Timely post - I just had a long overdue pap smear today. Friendly reminder to all readers to get checked! -Aroha (for #teamIBOT)

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  17. @Aroha @ Colours of Sunset OOPS- Almost replied to you from my husband's account (he was on here last night replying to his guest post on beer). HA! Thanks for the pap reminder. That subject also shocks me - when I learn how many women, even in their 40's can't be bothered to get them. ARGH!

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  18. @Olivia Harris I think you'd be better to discuss this than me. Maybe I need a guest post from you, sis?

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  19. Great post. Everyone should know this stuff, and why are we all so embarrassed about normal, natural stuff?!

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  20. @Rebecca Johnstone Thanks Rebecca! I think asking a question about your body as an adult woman can be embarrassing because it's admitting you don't know something?

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  21. Oh yes, of course, I get that. I just wish that there was more proper education - in schools and passed down at home like you say - so that it wouldn't end up that adult women are unsure of their own bodies. I feel sad that it's the case, even now, with so much information i.e. on the internet which would make it easier to find out the facts perhaps without having to ask someone and suffer embarrassment.


    I must add that I was a teensy bit squeamish of the cervix shots in the link. But it IS amazing to see an actual real, life cervix in action! They never had that in sex-ed...

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  22. It's a wonder any babies are born at all isn't it Jess? All the steps, all the things that have to happen at the exact right time. I found it amazing as a student and still marvel at it today!

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  23. Yes! What an awesome post! Of course being someone who is compelled to look at things that *might* be gross, I checked out the pics. FASCINATING. And a little squeamish, but that's my general response to seeing someones insides.


    Also: I love Natalie Dee, and doubly in the context of someone being frightened of losing a hotdog. That's some serious WTF right there. Everyone knows hotdogs are safe inside.


    Cool shit.

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  24. I was pretty much left to figure it all myself and certainly learnt lots when I had an abnormal papsmear and had to have surgery. Although I don't have a daughter, if I ever do, I will definitely be going into a lot more detail because there's absolutely nothing gross about it!

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  25. I just had a look at the website and wow!!! The female body is just truly amazing! AMAZING!

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  26. @Grace Does it make you want to buy your own "Empowering Kit?" HA! I wonder what mine looks like? It really is amazing

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  27. If I ever have a daughter I'm with you on it. I even think teaching our boys this stuff will help them with their partners too. They can always educate too! @Eva Lewis Our kids are lucky to be able to learn heaps from the internet too. I think my youth would have been a bit different having the internet, full of articles. How good was dial-up haha

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  28. @Amanda Smyth Somehow people figure out the sex part alright though, don't they. Who cares about the rest of it! ha!

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  29. Love this! I've seen that website before, and it was so super interesting. :) Thanks for sharing!!

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