Though most people know that the cervix is part of the female anatomy, not everyone is completely sure about the exact location of the cervix or what role it plays in a woman’s health. But in order to have the best health and prevent against such conditions as cervical polyps, cervical cancer, and cervical incompetence, it’s important to understand this area of the body and all of the things that can affect the way that it functions.
X Marks the Spot
The cervix is actually fibromuscular tissue located at the lowest portion of the uterus that serves as a connection point between the uterus and the vagina. It has a cylindrical shape composed of the ectocervix, which can be seen by a urogynecologist during a female pelvic exam, and an endocervix. The ectocervix has an opening in the center called the external os, which facilitates passage between the vagina and the uterus. As a cervix diagram would more clearly show, the endocervix is an actual tunnel through the cervix that extends from the external os to the uterus, and there is a connecting border between the ectocervix and the endocervix called the transformation zone. One of the primary functions of the cervix is to produce cervical mucus, which can either promote pregnancy or prevent it. It also serves as a passageway for blood during menstruation. During childbirth, the cervix must widely dilate in order for a baby to be delivered vaginally.
Some of the most common cervical conditions experienced by women include:
- Cervicitis, which is an inflammation of the cervix commonly caused by an infection of some kind such as chlamydia, herpes, and gonorrhea.
- Polyps, which are small growths that can develop at the point of connection between the cervix and the vagina. While these growths are generally not harmful and most women experience no cervix pain as a result of them, they can cause bleeding.
- Cancer, which is often the direct result of HPV (human papillomavirus) and can be prevented by regular monitoring through a Pap test.
- Cervical incompetence, which occurs during pregnancy and is most often experienced by women who have had some sort of procedure on their cervix. It is an early dilation of the cervix that can lead to premature delivery.
- Cervical dysplasia, which are abnormal cells that have developed in the cervix and can potentially cause cancer.
- Pelvic inflammatory disease, often called PID, which is a form of cervicitis that can spread from the cervix to the fallopian tubes and the uterus. From there, it can ultimately cause great damage to the reproductive organs and threaten a woman’s chances of pregnancy.
- HPV, or human papillomavirus, which are viruses including genital warts and cervical warts. The more dangerous forms of these viruses may potentially cause cervical cancer.
Clear up your knowledge and stay on the path to great health! Call the team at Coyle Institute today!