On Checking Cervixes

One of the “catch-22s” in NFP is that cervical position is a fairly definitive sign of ovulation. The trick is knowing how to measure it. Most things we’ve read say, “It can be confusing and subjective, so don’t bother if you’ve got the other two signs down.”

Trouble is, temperature charting requires certain ideal circumstances which work well for couples with no kids but become difficult once you have children, especially if you’re using “ecological breastfeeding” as a form of NFP. Temperature charting says “Get a good night’s sleep in a perfectly dark room, wake up at precisely the same time each day, and measure your temperature after as little movement as possible.” Ecological breastfeeding says, “wear your baby, co-sleep and breastfeed on demand.” The two just don’t work together.

Mucous can be very confusing. Female anatomy issues various kinds of fluids, including “arousal mucous,” which can be mistaken for cervical mucous. For some women, “if it’s wet, abstain,” means pretty much abstaining for all but 3 days of the month.

So, with each baby, we’ve tried to start NFP afresh and hit certain snags related to breastfeeding. Many of our friends have had the same experiences. A few weeks before we found out Mary was pregnant with Clara Agnes, she was visiting some former roommates. They asked her when she was due, because all of the women they’d lived with were pregnant, and all within a few weeks of each other.

Anyway, with that in mind, I have found some interesting stuff on the cervix. Ironically, one of the most clear-cut explanations I’ve seen is on the site of an artificial birth control product. The cervix is “hard and closed” for most of a woman’s life. It is also “low.” One of the “mistakes” we’ve made is thinking the cervix changes gradually: it doesn’t. It changes very quickly, which is what makes it such a clear-cut sign of ovulation. We’d *hoped* we could better predict ovulation by finding a pattern to the cervix, but that apparently is impossible. Because what I learned from the above site is that, when the cervix gets “open and high,” it does so *immediately* at the time of ovulation.

One day, it’s closed and soft and low. Next day, it’s open, “high” and soft. At the end of three days, it’s closed and hard and low again. We had thought the cervix felt differently before ovulation than it did afterward, but it doesn’t.

Adding to this confusion is another interesting fact of cervical position that I found on only one site, Beyond Fertility. It turns out that the os never fully closes after a woman has given birth! Before Mary was pregnant with Allie, I could always tell whether the cervix was closed or open.

After the return of fertility after each child, though, it’s been confusing since the cervix alway feels “open.” When it’s “low”, i feel a gap. They always say about feeling “like a nose.” Well, I always feel a hard bump “like a nose” high up in the vagina during fertility (probably just one side of the cervix, or another muscle). The rest of the the month, the cervix is there and feels “open”. so we’ve been confused about what exactly the position is. We’ve been inverting ovulation and infertility, or (based upon the above thing about not knowing the cervix is low *before* ovulation), thinking fertility has already come and gone when it hadn’t.

The Billings Method people have an informative website on this, as well, including animated diagrams of the cervical cycle, but the videos don’t show “low and high” positions.

One response to “On Checking Cervixes

  1. The best information I’ve found is in the book Taking Charge of Your Fertility. It’s by a Fertility Awareness expert. It’s a comprehensive method that checks ALL signs, and has answers to most of the questions you’ve posed here. The book takes a secular approach, but does not dismiss religious belief. It is a great resource, and I suggest you and Mary check it out.

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