What is a Cervical Self-Exam?
Most of us who have a cervix have no idea what a healthy cervix looks like and most of us have never seen what our own cervix looks like. A cervical self-exam is an opportunity to see parts of your anatomy you may have never seen before! Using a few easy to access tools and follow some simple precautions, you can easily conduct your own inspection of your cervix. A cervical self-exam if mostly about exploring and discovering your own body. It is by no means necessary and should not replace your yearly PAP smears and cervical exams conducted by a doctor. PAP smears are vital in screening for possible issues including cervical cancer.
What You’ll Need
The most important step before you begin – make sure all your instruments, your hands, and your environment is clean. The vagina is a sensitive eco-system with its own ideal PH balance. You don’t want to introduce any foreign bacteria into your vaginal canal during this self-exam.
To start the self-exam, place yourself in a comfortable position where you can spread your legs wide yet still have visual and physical access to your vagina. Use pillows to support your position. Put some lube on the insertable part of the speculum and try to relax as you insert the tips as far as they will comfortably go. If you feel your muscles tense, slow down and take a few breaths. When you feel comfortable and relaxed, open and lock the speculum like you practiced. Now this frees up both of your hands to grab the hand mirror and the flashlight. Shine the light into your vaginal canal and use to mirror to get a glimpse of your cervix.
So what are you looking at?
Cervixes can vary in color from a light white pink to a deep purply red. There may also be small white spots or a variation in color around the opening. Depending on where you are in your cycle, the opening of your cervix maybe be wide or very tight. If you’re menstruating, this is the opening in which blood and tissue leaves your uterus.
If you have an IUD, you should be able to see the string from the base of the device coming out of the opening of your cervix. If the IUD is relatively new, the string will be firm. If. You’ve had it for a while, the string will be softened from the slightly acidic environment of your vagina.
Check out what a cervix looks like here –
Additional information on cervical cancer –