Not a word most people would associate with the cervix, getting “cosy” is it? But this is essentially what we all need to do: get comfortable and show our cervixes a bit of love.
What the cervix is and does
In medical speak the cervix is “a cylinder-shaped neck of tissue that connects the vagina and uterus.” But for most of us, this description doesn’t really go far enough and help us to connect with our own cervixes. If that sounds like you, check out the Beautiful Cervix Project where you can find lots of really thoughtful resources – including a collaborative photo gallery of cervixes.
When should we be talking about our cervixes?
Cervixes only really come up in conversation in conjunction with dysfunction or dramatic changes such as the other “c” word – cancer – or when we’re talking about pregnant women. But all women have a cervix – not all of them go through pregnancy or cancer – and it’s essential that we change the nature of the conversation around cervixes.
While cervical screening is really important (according to Robert Music, Chief Executive of Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust, screening prevents 75% of cervical cancers from developing and provides the best protection against the disease), how are we supposed to realise when something is amiss or spot the warning signs if we’re not in touch with our cervixes?
Your cervix deserves more than to be associated solely with a potentially frightening medical diagnosis.
How could it be easier to talk about our cervixes, and what impact might that have on screening rates?
There’s now a growing collective of women turning the tide on the silence – sharing their experiences and educating other women who’ve been effectively shut out of the knowledge of their own bodies. One of these women is Menstrual Maven, Lisa Lister and she explains:
The last time I went for a cervical check up, I was left in a room with my legs wide apart, the window wide open (it was a February morning) with a speculum still inside me while the nurse went to fetch someone else for an opinion because apparently, it was looking ‘abnormal’ down there.
Now I’m a woman with agency, I work with women ‘down there’, yet I still felt deep shame and embarrassment throughout the entire experience. When statistic rates show that less and less women are having cervical screenings yet cervical pain and dis-ease is rising, I’m not surprised.
Many of us have been taught from a young age to be embarrassed or ashamed of our bodies, our vaginas, our menstrual cycle. We completely disconnect from them, living our lives from the neck up. Women don’t go for screenings because it’s embarrassing. It’s embarrassing to have to open your vagina in a clinical environment to be examined. While it’s simply a procedure for the health care professional, for many women, it’s a deeply personal experience and it needs to be handled in a sensitive and more supportive way.
More women need to feel empowered to be the experts on their own reproductive health: to know their body and to not wait for a cervical check to realise something’s abnormal.
Is it time you got cosy with your cervix? Or if you’re already there, perhaps you could start a conversation with the women around you to show them that talking about cervixes is perfectly normal.