The cervix is essentially the very bottom portion of your uterus. It consists of a long canal that opens into the vagina. Basically, the cervical canal is like a gatekeeper, it controls the passage between your uterus and vagina. Generally, what flows out of your uterus are unfertilized eggs, menstrual blood or a baby. And during ovulation, sperm is let in and assisted up into your uterine cavity via cervical cilia. Otherwise, the canal of your cervix is usually constricted (or closed) at the vaginal end.
The cervix produces mucus, which assists with lubrication, ease of travel or infection defense. As such, cervical secretion does vary in content and consistency. This is one reason for your vaginal discharge to differ in appearance and texture at times.
Conditions affecting the cervix tissue and function do occur. Examples of cervical health problems are:
- warts ~ HPV
- hemorrhaging during childbirth
- STD ~ gonorrhea, syphilis, chlamydia
Symptoms indicating your cervix may have a health related problem are pelvic pain, painful intercourse and/or abnormal discharge. Incompetent (or weak) cervical closure can lead to a miscarriage or premature delivery.
A Pap smear is primarily a screening test for cervical cancer, but in some cases may return results for diagnosing an infection (yeast, herpes, trichomoniasis) and other abnormalities. During this procedure cells are scraped from the vaginal end opening of your cervix, which are then sent to a lab for examination.