Do you know where your cervix is located? Do you know what it does?
The cervix is the end point of the uterus, located in the vaginal canal. It is meant to stay tight and closed when you are pregnant, then dilate to a good 10 cm when you are ready to deliver, essentially opening the door to the outside world.
There are glands in the cervix that help with mucus production for fertility, and with lubrication when aroused for intercourse.
The cervix is also a vulnerable place for cancer and sexually transmitted infections. The cells in that area are constantly changing and therefore susceptible to disease.
Here are 5 facts about your cervix affecting your health now:
1) Your cervix changes often.
First, it changes shape and position depending on where you are in your cycle. It can move up and down, become soft or firm, and be slightly open or more tightly closed.
Second, the cells on the cervix are in a constant state of flux from the more delicate rectangular-shaped columnar cells inside the cervix, to the more robust squamous cells on the outside.
The junction between these two is called the squamo-columnar junction (SCJ).
Due to this cellular transition, you are more prone to infection and disease there than a man is in the cells on his penis.
2) The human papillomavirus (HPV) is not transmitted through fluid exchange.
In other words, it is a contact sport. Cells containing HPV touch the susceptible cells of the cervix and put a woman at risk for cervical cancer and/or genital warts.
The more partners a woman has had and the more partners her partners have had, the higher the risk of contracting HPV.
Having said that, some research says that 60-80 percent of sexually active adults have the HPV virus. It does not express as cancer or warts if the immune system keeps it under control.
3) Pap tests are important.
According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), cervical cancer used to be the number one cause of death due to cancer for women but that has changed.
Education, programs and marketing campaigns have been aimed at protecting cervical health with regular Pap tests.
These campaigns have reduced the cancer rate over the years, plus the HPV vaccine can decrease the development of cancer-causing viruses.
The Pap test and HPV screening are the only ways to test for abnormal cells.
4) HPV can lay dormant for years.
Even if you are being responsible and following the guidelines for regular Pap testing, you could have contracted HPV years ago and it is just now manifesting.
This does not necessarily mean your partner is cheating or that you got HPV from your current partner as there is no test for men ... yet.
Viruses are tricky and can hide out for years until the time is right. There is also no cure for a virus like there is for bacteria, therefore antibiotics do not work.
5) Your cervix is also susceptible to other diseases.
Besides HPV, your cervix is also susceptible to other diseases such as HIV, gonorrhea, chlamydia, syphilis, trichomoniasis and hepatitis.
Several of these diseases do not have outward symptoms that would tip you off as to a problem or the symptoms may not show up until it is too late.
Do your part as a responsible adult and get regular testing, use protection, and ensure your partner is tested as well.
1) Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). (2014). Cervical Cancer Statistics. Retrieved from
2) Morshed, K., Polz-Gruszka, D., Szymanski, M., and Polz-Dacewicz, M. (2014). Human Papillomavirus (HPV) - structure, epidemiology and pathogenesis. Retrieved from
Reviewed January 21, 2015
by Michele Blacksberg RN
Edited by Jody Smith