Know Your Cervix
The Native Youth Sexual Health Network is an organization by and for Indigenous youth that works across issues of sexual and reproductive health, rights and justice throughout the United States and Canada.
Whether you’re on the front lines defending the water or hearing stories from your Aunties about birthing and moontime (menstruation), cervical mucus is a reproductive health topic that can be discussed anywhere!
Did you know that cervical mucus is composed of 90 - 98% water?
That’s right, mostly water.
Cervical mucus is an important element to our sexual and reproductive health cycles and can inform us about our bodies and overall health.
So what exactly is cervical mucus?
10 quick cervical facts:
Cervical mucus is a fluid created by the cervix (the top part or opening of the uterus, also known as the “neck of the womb”). No two cervixes look alike.
It’s texture, consistency and color changes depending on hormone levels, menstrual cycle changes and overall health. The realities we experience in our lives can show up in our cervical fluid. Anything from travel, to trauma, to change in foods can show up. This is also why it’s great to chart this to see the changes and if any further support is needed
Our bodies create all kinds of mucus and fluids to protect the openings in our bodies (ear wax, phlegm in the throat, nose for example) and this is another one!
Having some discharge from the vagina is totally ok and normal! If you’re worried if things change, like color, texture or smell reach out for support and talk to a midwife or care provider about what your normal is.
The inside of the vagina is its own self cleaning ecosystem - using gentle soaps externally to clear away sweat or other bodily fluids is fine, but avoid using harsh chemical products on the more sensitive parts of the vulva and inside the vagina. This can disrupt the PH balance and cause irritation or infection (a happy vaginal environment is actually acidic). We’ll also make a plug here for reusable and alternative moontime products like menstrual cups, cloth pads, sea sponges, and more!
Cervical mucus acts as a door keeper of fertility - it becomes acidic and difficult to get through when someone is not fertile (no egg inside the uterus to be fertilized) and nourishing and welcoming when an ovum (egg) is present
The cervix (along with the uterus) does a lot of hard work in the body during labor for birth to happen. It both dilates (opens) to 10 cm (or more) and effaces (thins out) to make passage. Baby and the birthing person communicate through hormones and more that make this happen on its own - super cool!
Want to look at your cervix? A great time is before or after moontime so you can see how it changes throughout the menstrual cycle which can also tell you if you may or may not be fertile, or when your moontime is going to happen. Tips include propping yourself up on pillows, having a flashlight, speculum, lubricant, and hand mirror to take a look (hint: it’s really amazing!) Check out http://beautifulcervix.com for more info!
Did you know that pap smears can also be done by midwives? A pap smear is the insertion of a speculum followed by a swab to check for cervical cancer. The current recommendation is every 3 years. We suggest bringing a friend with you and to also ask if you can be supported to feel your cervix yourself and watch with a hand mirror what’s happening (all of course if you feel comfortable).
Learning the fertility awareness method (FAM) can help make checking cervical fluid a regular part of how you keep track of your overall health. Throughout the menstrual cycle you can learn to chart what you see and also keep a record of your basal body temperature (your body’s temperature for at least 3 hours of rest) and cervical position. You can also add things like cycles of the moon or ceremonies - this is what many of our ancestors did in different ways as well. Check out https://www.justisse.ca for more info!
Learning about cervical mucus can be one great way of tracking your fertility, even while you are on land! As we experience more and more changes to the air, land and water around us reconnecting with our bodies in ways that allow us to know exactly what’s going on ourselves is critical. All you need is some awareness about your cervix, the different types of mucus and your fingers! You’ll be mucus ready whenever, wherever!
Water Is Life - Know Your Cervix