Here’s everything you need to know about checking your cervix before your period.
First, a review: Ovulation is the part of the month when your ovaries release an egg toward your uterus. The 2 weeks (or so) between ovulation and your period is called the luteal phase. Basically, your body — including your cervix — starts prepping for possible pregnancy.
How your cervix changes during the luteal phase:
Ovulation time. Your cervix is high (deeper in your vaginal canal), soft, and slippery with clear mucus.
Exiting the fertile season. As the luteal phase passes and you *don’t* get pregnant, your mucus changes. It could get thick and white. For some, it dries up completely.
Period prep. Bye-bye, mucus — hello, cervix! As the red tide looms, your cervix drops lower and gets softer.
Wait, what’s my cervix feel like again?
It’s kinda like a little pink donut. Some folks’ cervixes have spots or harmless blister-like bumps (really, no big deal). Your cervix might also be covered in mucus — the discharge you find in your undies. Nothing to be afraid of!
There are two ways to assess your cervix.
- Use a speculum and mirror to check it out visually.
- Use your fingers to feel it and evaluate your mucus consistency.
OK, ready to get started?
- Gather your tools. If you’re using a speculum, wash it. You might also need water-based lube, a mirror, and a flashlight. If it’s your first time using a speculum, practice opening it and locking it into place.
- Clean up. Whether you’re using a speculum or your fingers, first pee and wash your hands with antibacterial soap.
- Get comfy. Sit in a reclined position, or lie down with your legs up on a chair or bed. Some folks prefer standing with one foot on the toilet.
- Look at your cervix (with speculum). Put the mirror on the floor under you. Lube up the speculum and insert it into your vagina with the handle pointed up. Open it slowly. You might need to adjust your light and mirror, but you *should* be able to your cervix! If you can’t see it, that could mean your cervix is high and you’re nowhere near your period.
- Feel your cervix (without speculum). With or without lube, reach as far into your vagina as you can. Your cervix will feel like a small donut or ball with an indentation in the middle. Note how high it is, whether it feels firm or soft, and whether it seems open or closed.
Was it hard or soft?
Early in your cycle, your cervix feels firm (like the tip of your nose).
Around ovulation, it gets soft (like your lips). If your cervix feels soft, you’re in the luteal phase — and getting closer to your period.
Does it feel open or shut?
The small dent or opening in the center of your cervix is called the cervical os.
Basically, the os is the opening to your uterus. It opens up more during ovulation (in case any swimmers need to get in!) and your period (to let that blood flow).
High or low?
When we talk about a “high” cervix, we’re describing how deep it is inside your vagina.
During ovulation, the cervix is high (deep). As your period approaches, it gets low.
How ‘bout that mucus?
Monitoring your mucus is an easy way to check how fertile you are in different stages of your cycle.
Pro tip: Keep a journal
Want to start monitoring your cycle and fertility? Grab a notebook! Make note on:
- the color, amount, and consistency of your mucus
- the color and position of your cervix
- whether the os is open or closed
The longer you track, the more likely you are to notice if something goes sideways. There are also apps that can help you keep track if that’s more your style.
Wondering if you’ve got a bun in the oven? Your cervix might have the answer!
Early pregnancy texture and position. In early pregnancy, the cervix is soft, open, and low… just like it is before your period. But if you’ve been tracking for a while, you might notice a difference in how soft, open, and low your cervix feels.
Early pregnancy color. Your cervix might change color in early pregnancy. If you have a speculum handy, check to see if it’s changed from pink to purple or even bluish.
Positive preggo test or not, tell your doctor if Aunt Flo ghosts you.
- bleeding after sex
- green, gray, or dark yellow discharge
- smelly discharge (may be a sign of infection)
- pelvic pain
- your cervix looks bright red, blue, or black (signs of endometriosis)
Head’s up for the DIY peeps: Self-exams do not take the place of your regular pap smear or STD/STI testing.
- Your cervix can help you figure out where you are in your cycle — including whether you’re getting close to menstruation.
- During the 2 weeks before your period, your cervix moves lower in your vagina and produces mucus that is sticky instead of slippery.
- Your cervix can also clue you in to early pregnancy or new reproductive health probs.