Your cervix is the lower end of your uterus, sitting at the top of your vagina. It can be closed or open, high or low, and soft or firm, depending on factors such as:
- where you are in your menstrual cycle
- if you’re pregnant
- natural positioning or feel
In most people, the cervix is usually closed and firm but it opens to let blood out during menstruation.
During childbirth, the cervix opens to allow the passage of the baby. For this to happen, your cervix naturally gets softer during pregnancy.
A soft cervix is what it sounds like — it feels soft to the touch. When firm, your cervix will feel like an unripe piece of fruit. When it gets soft, it feels more like ripe fruit. You might also hear that a firm cervix feels like the tip of your nose and a soft cervix feels like your lips.
In early pregnancy, your cervix will become soft and high in your vagina. This is one of the first things that happens after fertilization. Your cervix will then harden but stay high.
As your pregnancy progresses, the cervix will again get softer, which helps allow for childbirth. As the cervix softens, it also thins out (effaces) and opens (dilates).
This is a normal part of pregnancy. However, if your cervix opens or gets too soft too early, it can lead to preterm labor. This condition is called cervical insufficiency or incompetent cervix.
The cause of cervical insufficiency is usually unknown. However, having previous cervical trauma and certain conditions, such as connective tissue disorders, can put you at a higher risk.
You may not have any symptoms of cervical insufficiency early on, so it’s important to get regular prenatal care. This will help your doctor find and treat this condition early if you do have it.
If you do get symptoms, they may include:
Treatment is available for a cervix that opens and softens too early. This includes:
- bed rest
- progesterone shots
- frequent monitoring with ultrasounds
- cervical cerclage, which is when your doctor puts in a stitch to hold your cervix closed until you get closer to full term
Treatment will depend on how far along you are in your pregnancy and other health factors.
Your gynecologist may have told you that you have a soft cervix. Or you may have felt it if you use certain fertility methods, such as the cervical mucous method. Either way, your cervix may just be naturally soft.
This isn’t a cause for concern if you’re not pregnant. It may become an issue if you get pregnant, but doesn’t necessarily cause problems for everyone with a naturally soft cervix.
Your cervix also gets softer at different points in your menstrual cycle. During ovulation, the cervix gets higher and often gets softer. It creates more mucus, and opens so that sperm can meet and fertilize an egg. Note that most hormonal birth control methods stop you from ovulating.
After ovulation, your cervix will drop and harden. It may be low but stay soft as you get closer to menstruating. If fertilization didn’t happen during ovulation, your cervix will open to allow menstruation to happen, but will stay low and hard.
A soft cervix could raise your risk of preterm labor. If you’re pregnant, your doctor can provide treatment that will help your cervix stay firm and closed, and decrease your risk of preterm labor.
If you’re not currently pregnant but have a history of cervical insufficiency during pregnancy, your cervix may just feel softer than it did before. This isn’t a problem when you’re not pregnant, but tell your doctor about your history if you do get pregnant again.
In most cases, a doctor is the one who will discover that you have a soft cervix. They can recommend medical treatment, if necessary.
However, if you check your cervix regularly and start noticing that it’s softer than it usually is at a particular time of the month, or you have other cervical changes, you should see your doctor. While a soft cervix alone is usually nothing to worry about, it’s usually a good idea to get changes in your body checked out.
A soft cervix is usually nothing to worry about. In fact, your cervix naturally gets softer during ovulation. It also gets softer as a pregnancy progresses.
However, if you’re pregnant, a soft cervix when you’re not close to full term can raise your risk of preterm labor. If you know you have a soft cervix and are pregnant, talk to your doctor about treatment options.