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[Sexplanations intro animation]

[reading a comment on a past video] "Do you think you could do a video on the cervix?" Absolutely!

Let's start with its location. Essentially, the cervix is an internal organ between the uterus and the vagina. If the vagina is here, and the uterus is just above it, this pear shape, then the 2-3 centimeter space between them that protrudes into the vagina is the cervix. If you reach a clean finger inside the vagina, you may be able to feel it. Pushing down like "unnhhh" can help, too. 

The cervix may be tilted up or down or straight inside the vagina. Its position or angle is variable, often dependent on the position of the uterus. When I touch my cervix, it's usually smooth and slippery, like the inside of my cheek. It's pretty easy to find, and it feels firm, like the tip of my nose. But around ovulation, when my estrogen is higher, it's softer, squishier, and further up. Mmmmm, like my lips.

The best description of the cervix I got from a doctor, who compared it to a cherry. They're about the same size and shape, bright, tender, and the mark on the cherry where there was a stem is really similar to the os, or opening, of the cervix.

There are actually two ora, or the plural of os. One is at the ectocervix, the part of the cervix closest to the vagina. Another is at the endocervix, the part that opens up into the uterus. They have separate cellular makeups and functions, but yes, they are two openings to the same canal. One opening into the vagina, the other into the uterus. Like a donut. Pear! Cherry! Donut!

The external os that you might feel with your fingertip typically starts off the size of an ear piercing hole, or the 10-point font "o". The external os, opening into the uterus, is a little wider, but not much. Their function? Gatekeeping. Cervical fluid comes out that's either hindering or helping sperm swim into the uterus and Fallopian tubes to fertilize an egg. Menstrual blood sloughs off through the ora and the vagina during menstruation so that it doesn't stay in the body and lead to infection. Interuterine devices are inserted through the hole to prevent pregnancy. And if pregnant, a mucus plug forms in the cervix to keep everything above it sterile.

Pregnant? The embryo, fetus, or baby eventually comes out exiting through the ora most of the time. In preparation for delivery, the cervix thins out and becomes more pliable, known as effacement or ripening. Then, the os, that little ear piercing hole, dilates wide enough for a newborn noggin.

In 1879, Ann Haining Bates' cervix expanded to accommodate a baby that was 23 pounds, 9 ounces. That's 10.7 kilograms! Big boy!

Here's a cool cervix fun fact: because of this widening of the os, when a person experiences an abortion or childbirth, the os changes shape. It goes from an "o" to being a hyphen. Hyphen! 

I remember this because during my doctoral program, I was observing a pelvic exam, and the doctor asked the model if she'd given birth or had an abortion, like it was one or the other. And the model said, "How can you tell?" To which the doctor showed and explained the hyphen in her cervix. It opens and then kind of flattens on itself if you've gone through childbirth or an abortion.

I'll show you! This is the Beautiful Cervix Project, a collection of cervix photographs showing what they look like and how they vary from person to person, time of month, and pre- and post-sex or pregnancy or menopause.

This is a photo of a cervix on day 13 of the menstrual cycle -- a nulliparous 26-year-old, meaning that the person hasn't given birth. Here's a cervix also on day 13, but two years after giving birth.

If you can't tell what's what, taking these photos involves a speculum, flashlight, and camera. The speculum holds the vagina partially open so that the vaginal walls are pressed flat where those plastic parts are. And the vagina kind of bulges out everywhere else. The cervix is at the end, the part that looks like the head of a penis. Fleshy, spongy, sturdy. At a resting state, it's 3-5 inches from the vaginal opening.

So the flashlight and the camera are in the person's crotch, aimed inward. There's actually a cervix photography tutorial on the site if you want to contribute to the gallery. Show off your stunning innards and sex-educate!

The first time I saw these images, I learned a lot. I felt more accepting of all the different fluids coming out of me, and I had more compassion for my mood changes and my body struggles. Because there's evidence that things fluctuate dramatically!

Day 1, first day of menstruation: a little blood. Day 2, Day 3, Day 4, Day 5. Skip to Day 9, and: a different kind of fluid. Day 11: the cervical fluid is clearer. Probably close to ovulation. And Day 13, for this cervix at least: it gets cloudy again. Powwww! Precious, delicate, beautiful!

There's isn't a consensus on sex and the cervix, so I'm going to share what I know and hope that you stay curious. 

One theory on sperm retention suggests that the cervix contracts during an orgasm to increase the chances of reproduction, drawing sperm up like a "turkey baster". I've also seen video footage of the cervix moving like a duck head, dipping into a pool of semen. Again, probably to retain sperm. [slurping sound]

There isn't much research on these ideas, and some think that they're way off. But it's interesting, right?

Sexually, you probably need to know that if you put things like finger, toys, penises, peens, et cetera, into the vagina, there is a possibility that they could bump the cervix. Especially if the person isn't fully aroused, and/or the object of insertion is lengthy. For some, the bumping is like a massage. Yeah, that is nice! Some feel pleasurable sensations from the sides of the cervix when they're stimulated. And some people enjoy how the thrusting creates a kind of plunger effect on the cervix. Some people have cervical orgasms. 

But for others, contact with the cervix is more like being stabbed. It's more achy and crampy and/or sharp. Which makes sense, because the head of the cervix is essentially being smashed into the neck. This is a spectrum.

I recommend a lot of care and listening to your body. During arousal, the vaginal canal typically elongates, and the cervix tends to raise up so that it's less likely to get hit. This is called tenting. The physiology is to get out of the way, so maybe that tells you something. Banging on the cervix can lead to bruising and cell dysplasia, abnormal cell growth, infection, irritation, inflammation -- there are risks.

So, if you're into "my dick is so long, it slams the cervix, yeah!" Then I'd recommend waiting until after age 25, when the cervix is considered fully developed, so it's not as susceptible. And after age 21, a pap smear once every three years is a good guideline, too -- a swab or wand that goes in and scrapes the cervix a little, to get a sample. Are there any abnormalities? Cancer?

Most cases of cervical cancer are caused by the human papillomavirus, HPV. So getting the vaccine Gardasil, which all sexes and genders can do, can actually prevent cervical health problems. Certainly, fewer people contract HPV, fewer people spread it, and fewer people get cervical cancer and warts.

Take care of the cervix! Take care of it, admire it, tell others about its magnificence, and stay curious. 

I picked these two today! [holds up sex toys] This one I think is so gorgeous, and it is bigger than a vagina at a resting state, so you know -- three to five inches here, you would still need to tent if you don't want this to hit the cervix. 

And this one! Oh, you're so cute, little penguin head! And your packaging is so smart! Okay, let's open you up.

The nice thing about this one for anything cervix-related is that it doesn't go anywhere near the cervix. This is external. Sucking on that erectile tissue or wherever you put it! And it's got a little bow! Aww, so cute. Yeah, you're not gonna hurt the cervix.

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[Sexplanations outro music]

Oh, yeah. 

It may be, too, that the tilt-- aww pbbbbbb.

Getting hooooot and we've only just started.

The model if--

And after age 21, a smap sm--

Show off your stunning sex innards!...something!