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During pregnancy, the cervix may feel different due to changes in position and firmness.

Cervix in early pregnancy

There are two main changes to the cervix in early pregnancy.

The cervix is the entrance to your womb and sits between your vagina and uterus. It feels like a round donut or ball high inside your vagina. Tracking changes to your cervix may help you to detect early pregnancy.

The first change is in the position of your cervix. During ovulation, the cervix rises to a higher level in the vagina. It will be lower in the vagina around the time of menstruation. If you’ve conceived, the cervix will remain in a higher position.

The second noticeable change is in the feel of the cervix. If you haven’t conceived, your cervix will feel firm before your period, like an unripened fruit. If you are pregnant, your cervix will feel soft.

How to check your cervix

It’s possible to check the position and firmness of your cervix at home. You can do this by inserting a finger into your vagina to feel for the cervix. Your middle finger may be the most effective finger to use because it’s the longest, but use whichever finger is easiest for you.

It’s best to perform this test after taking a shower and with clean, dry hands to minimize the risk of infection.

If you wish to use this method to detect pregnancy, check your cervix daily throughout your cycle and keep a journal so that you can identify your normal cervical changes and monitor the differences. Some women master the art of performing this test, but for others it’s more difficult.

You may also be able to identify ovulation through your cervix position. During ovulation, your cervix should be soft and in a high position.

Knowing when you’re ovulating can help you conceive. Just remember that you’ll have the best chances for conception if you have sex one to two days before ovulation. Once you detect the changes, it may be too late to conceive that month.

How to determine if your cervix is low or high

Each woman’s anatomy is different, but in general, you can determine the position of your cervix by how far you can insert your finger before reaching the cervix. Become familiar with where your own cervix sits, and it will be easier to notice changes.

If you monitor the position of your cervix over a couple of menstrual cycles, you’ll learn where your cervix lies when it’s in a low or high position.

Is it a reliable pregnancy test?

Cervical changes always occur during early pregnancy, but they can be difficult for many women to detect. Because of this, they’re not a reliable method for determining whether you’re pregnant.

Also, the position of your cervix may be different based on the position of your body while you’re checking the cervix, or if you’ve recently had sex.

If you’re able to identify certain changes, they may help you detect a pregnancy. You should still confirm the pregnancy with a pregnancy test after your first missed period.

Other early signs of pregnancy

Often, the most reliable sign of early pregnancy is a missed period and positive pregnancy test. If you have irregular cycles, identifying a missed period may be difficult, which can make it hard to know when to use a pregnancy test.

If you use a pregnancy test too early in pregnancy, you may get a false-negative result. That’s because pregnancy tests measure hCG in your urine.

Also called the pregnancy hormone, hCG takes a couple weeks to build up to levels that can be detected in at-home pregnancy tests.

Other signs of early pregnancy may include:

  • nausea or vomiting
  • sore breasts
  • tiredness
  • frequent urination
  • constipation
  • increased vaginal discharge
  • an aversion to certain smells
  • strange cravings

Next steps

If you think you may be pregnant, it’s important to take a pregnancy test to confirm. There are early pregnancy tests available that can be taken even before your period is due, but results are more accurate the longer you wait.

Pregnancy is normally easily detected on a home pregnancy test one week after your period is due. Doctors are able to test for pregnancy earlier than you can with a home testing kit. This requires a blood test, however.

Once you get a positive pregnancy test, you should contact your doctor and make your first appointment to be followed in your pregnancy.

It’s possible to get a negative test result and still be pregnant. This just means that your pregnancy hormones haven’t yet risen to a level that can be picked up by a test.

Your hormone levels continue to rise as pregnancy progresses, so if you have a negative result, but your period still hasn’t arrived, try testing again in another week.

The takeaway

It’s important to take good care of yourself if you’re pregnant or suspect you may be pregnant. This includes:

  • taking prenatal vitamins
  • eating a balanced diet
  • staying well hydrated
  • getting enough rest
  • avoiding alcohol, tobacco, or other recreational drugs

Light exercise such as pregnancy yoga, swimming, or walking can also be beneficial in preparing your body for carrying and giving birth to your baby.

For more guidance and weekly tips for preparing your body for pregnancy and giving birth, sign up for our I’m Expecting newsletter.