The cervix is located at the top of the vagina and is the lower part of the uterus. It is approximately one inch in length and is cylindrical in shape. During a menstrual cycle, the cervix will open slightly so that the blood can come out. After a woman ovulates, the cervix will descend into the vagina and it will feel firm. The cervix is typically pink or reddish in color.
Once conception has occurred, the cervix rises upwards and will become softer than usual. The cervix will remain tightly closed to prevent infection. There will be a mucus plug covering the bottom of the cervix that acts as a barrier to prevent infection as well. The color of the cervix will change during pregnancy. It will go from a pink or reddish color to bluish or purple-looking.
During labor, the cervix will change to get ready for childbirth. During pregnancy the cervix is thick and 0% effaced. The cervix will begin to efface, or thin out and shorten. Your doctor will speak of effacement in terms of percentages. When you are 100% effaced, your cervix is completely thin and ready for childbirth. The cervix will also dilate, or open. Your doctor will speak of dilation in terms of centimeters. Once you are 10 cm dilated, your cervix is completed dilated and ready for childbirth.
After childbirth the cervix does not look like it did before pregnancy. The cervix will remain dilated to 2 or 3 cm for approximately 3 days after delivery. If you were to have an internal examination at one week postpartum, the cervix would look very similar to the cervix before pregnancy. During the first four to six weeks after delivery, the cervix will begin to heal but it will not be completely healed until about 12 weeks postpartum. It is important to give your cervix and uterus time to properly heal before conceiving another child.
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