What is the purpose of the cervix?

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[.highlighted] Q: Dear Teal, [.highlighted] The cervix is a bit of a mystery to me. What is its purpose?

A: The cervix produces cervical mucus that cleans and hydrates the vagina. Because it responds to hormonal changes, cervical mucus changes throughout the menstrual cycle. Perhaps if you’ve tracked your cycles or tried to conceive, you’ve noticed or looked for changes in your cervical mucus. Near the time of ovulation, the mucus is thin and slippery, promoting sperm to pass through. It can also be a source of sexual stimulation for some women during intercourse.

The cervix also plays an important part in pregnancy and birth. During pregnancy, it develops a protective thick mucus plug which helps prevent infections. It is the part of the uterus that opens/dilates during labor, allowing the fetus to move through the birth canal during a vaginal delivery. “Fully dilated” means your cervix is fully open.

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Liz Swenson, MD
Medical Director

Liz Swenson is a board-certified OB/GYN who has been providing care to women for more than 20 years. She has learned that women are genuinely interested in their own health and want to understand the science behind their medical conditions. Originally from Iowa, she completed her medical training in Northern California where she still lives with her husband and two daughters. She has worked in a busy multispecialty practice in Palo Alto and has taught OBGYN residents as an Adjunct Clinical Faculty Member of Stanford University. Now, with a focus on helping all women have choices and access to the gynecological care they need, she is excited to use her clinical experience to help improve the lives and longevity of all Teal patients.