- Brief info about the cervix
- What does the cervix look like?
- What does the cervix feel like?
- Why is it important to measure your cervix height?
- How to measure your cervix height?
- Your cervix height
The cervix height is one of the most important factors to consider to obtain a matching menstrual cup. It is the distance between the vaginal opening and the cervix. This determines the length of the cup you need. Here, you will learn how to measure your cervix height.
But first, what exactly is the cervix?
Brief info about the cervix
The cervix is the lower cylinder-shaped part of the uterus that connects to the vagina. It is at the end of the vaginal canal and is the gateway to the uterine cavity (or the inside of the uterus).
There are two main portions of the cervix – the ectocervix and the endocervix (or the endocervical canal). The parts visible during a vaginal examination is the ectocervix and the external os (or the opening at the center). The endocervix is the tunnel from the external os into the uterus.
What does the cervix look like?
The cervix changes position and releases mucus throughout the menstrual cycle to facilitate or prevent conception. The cervix during ovulation is high, soft, open, and wet. It is low, hard, closed, and dry before and after ovulation. During menstruation, it is lower, firm, and slightly open to allow the menstrual flow to pass into the vagina.
The external os varies as well. It is a small circular opening for those who haven’t given birth and becomes slit-like after giving birth.
Below is an up close photograph of a cervix during the second day of menstruation.
Photo: The Beautiful Cervix Project [https://www.beautifulcervix.com/project/age-24-most-of-cycle/].
What does the cervix feel like?
The cervix is generally smoother as compared to the vaginal wall which has ridges. A soft cervix has a similar feel to an earlobe while it has the firmness of the tip of a nose when firm. You could feel the cervix centered, angled to one side, or in an upward (towards bladder area) or downward (towards rectum area) tilt. The external os may feel like a small hole, a dimple, or a slit at the center. When you run your fingertip around the cervix, you may notice the space around it (or the fornix) as if the cervix is like an island at the end of your vaginal canal.
Why is it important to measure your cervix height?
Before buying a menstrual cup, I recommend measuring your cervix height throughout your period. This will help you determine the length of the cup you need. This will help you get familiar with the position and movement of your cervix during menstruation. Thus, it makes inserting and troubleshooting menstrual cups a lot easier.
Others prefer to use cloth liners or menstrual pants during the last few days of their period. If you want to totally ditch other period products and use menstrual cup(s) until the last drop of the brown discharge, measure your cervix height until that day.
The movement of the cervixes during menstruation is not the same for all. There are menstruators whose cervixes move a lot during their period, while others stay on the same level. Below are the possible cervix movements you may observe when you measure yours:
- low to average or vice versa
- average to high or vice versa
- low to high or vice versa
You will never know the day it could hang low or go high unless you measure every day during your period. Skipping a day could give a not so perfect match. Suppose you measured your cervix height only on the first and last day of your period. You recorded a high cervix, not knowing that it is lowest during your third day. You will buy a high cervix cup. Period arrives, and you wear your cup. You find it satisfyingly comfortable (Yay! Congrats self), but then day 3 comes, and it suddenly feels odd and/or painful (But why? You ask). You will most likely experience this every period with this cup. As compared to having a record of the entire 5 or so days of your period, you have the chance to select the cup height that would accommodate your cervix heights. Not measuring your cervix height at all always gives a 50-50 possibility. You buy and get lucky, or not. That is how essential measuring is.
How to measure your cervix height?
IMPORTANT: Wash your hands first. Make sure you rinse it well, no soap residue. Make sure your nails are clean, best if trimmed. Remember that the cervix is open during menstruation, and we do not want to introduce bacteria or cause infection. If you have UTI and/or vaginal infection, let it clear up first before you proceed.
- Get into a comfortable and relaxed position. You can sit on the toilet, squat on the floor, or stand with one leg propped on a stool/toilet/tub. Be extra careful when you do it in the shower.
- Gently insert your relaxed index or middle finger, whichever can be positioned with ease, into your vagina. Push your finger between your labia minora (or the inner lips) into the vaginal opening and slide it in comfortably following the vaginal canal until you touch your cervix. It may take you a while to identify it, and that’s fine. You may find circling your finger over the vaginal wall, as if drawing circles inside, as you insert it going up helpful. Then circle around the cervix and feel its opening to confirm you have found it. Please note that you may not be able to touch the cervix if it is very high or your finger is short.
COMMON MISTAKE: I’ve been encountering this a lot from those measuring their cervix height. They tend to skip the cervix and think they have a high one because they cannot feel it. The problem is that their fingers went straight into their vaginal fornix instead of below the cervix. This usually happens when the cervix is tilted. This is why I always recommend circling around the vaginal wall to ensure you’re getting the tube-feel of the vaginal canal from the entrance of the vagina until you reach the cervix. If it feels like you’re already circling around something firm or your fingertip is in a tight spot that it’s hard to circle, pull your finger a bit because it’s likely in the fornix.
- While touching the cervix, use the tip of the thumb to mark the point on the finger where the vaginal opening is (between the labia minora). Just note it if your thumb cannot do it, either because of a mobility issue or just because the entire finger is inside.
- Measure the tip of your finger up to the point you’ve marked against a ruler. Others recommend the knuckle rule here, but you have to consider that not all hands and fingers are the same. One’s average might be low or high to you. You may use the knuckle as a marker but then you must convert it to a smaller unit of length ideally in millimeters. Using a ruler gives a reliable result.
- Record your daily measurements. This record will be your guide as you choose the proper cup length. Although not necessary, keeping tabs on your cervix position along with the height is a plus. This will also help you in troubleshooting your cup if needed. You can also use this to compare your cervix movement every period.
- Keep calm and unclench. Breathe in slowly through your nose, slowly breathe out through your mouth. Sigh. Relax. Clenching your muscles (throat and jaw, buttocks and vagina) can cause physical discomfort. It may also affect the cervix height.
- Do not measure your cervix height when you are sexually aroused as the cervix is higher during this time.
TIP: You may practice while you are not on your period to get comfortable with the process and get familiar with what everything inside feels like. Again, the cervix height, shape, and firmness vary throughout your menstrual cycle.
Your cervix height
- Low Cervix Height: 44mm or lower.
Your cervix is near your vaginal opening. Sometimes, an average menstrual cup could still be uncomfortable or too long even with it’s stem completely cut off.
- Average Cervix: 45 – 55 mm.
You have a lot of menstrual cups to choose from. Each brand carries one or two for you.
- High Cervix: 55mm or higher.
Your cervix is hard to reach or totally unreachable even with your full finger inside. Though any length of menstrual cup may fit inside you, keep in mind that it must be easily reachable if you don’t want to experience giving birth to a cup.
- A cup that is too short for your cervix height is hard to reach and could be very challenging to remove. You may need to push really hard for it to go down.
- A cup that is too long for you may feel like it’s falling out. The base could protrude and irritate you. It could also push your parts inside (pressure) and cause cramps.
- Most cups have customizable stems that you could trim or cut off in case you find it uncomfortable or unnecessary.
Measuring your cervix height gives you a higher chance of a well-fitted cup. A well-fitted cup is a comfortable cup. Though firmness is another factor not to be disregarded, I consider the right length of a menstrual cup as the most important key to comfort. Also, as you become aware of your cervix movement, the ease of inserting and positioning the cup follows.
If you’re feeling icky about this measuring process, consider yourself not cup-ready yet. You must understand that using a menstrual cup is more than just switching period products. It’s also about being familiar and comfortable with your own body and everything that comes with it. This is your first step into the menstrual cup. Don’t just get too excited and jump on the bandwagon because a negative experience could put you off using a menstrual cup.
Comprehensive Visual Inspection of the Cervix with Acetic Acid (VIA) and Lugol’s Iodine (VILI) [https://www.gfmer.ch/ccdc/victest.htm], Module 1: Anatomy of the cervix, squamocolumnar junction, metaplastic change and transformation zone – Pierre Vassilakos, Raluca Negulescu, Rosa Pinto Catarino [https://www.gfmer.ch/ccdc/pdf/module1.pdf]
Cervix (Human Anatomy): Diagram, Location, Conditions, Treatment [https://www.webmd.com/women/picture-of-the-cervix]
Pelvic Health & Jaw Tension – How their connection will make your jaw drop [https://www.christinemathesonnd.com/blog/pelvic-health-jaw-tension-connection]