The area adjacent to the border of the endocervix and ectocervix is known as the 'transformation zone. The Transformation zone undergoes metaplasia numerous times during normal life. When the endocervix is exposed to the harsh acidic environment of the vagina it undergoes metaplasia to squamous epithelium which is better suited to the vaginal environment. Similarly when the ectoocervix enters the less harsh uterine area it undergoes metaplasia to become columnar epithelium.
Times in life when this metaplasia of the transformation zone occurs: - puberty; when the endocervix everts (moves out) of the uterus - with the changes of the cervix associated with the normal menstrual cycle - post-menopause; the uterus shrinks moving the transformation zone upwards
All these changes are normal and the occurrence is said to be physiological.
However all this metaplasia does increase the risk of cancer in this area - the transformation zone is the most common area for cervical cancer to occur.
At certain times of life, the columnar epithelium is replaced by metaplastic squamous epithelium, and is then known as the transformation zone.
Nabothian cysts are often found in the cervix.
After a menstrual period ends, the external os is blocked by mucus that is thick and acidic. This "infertile" mucus blocks spermatozoa from entering the uterus. For several days around the time of ovulation, "fertile" types of mucus are produced: they have a higher water content, are less acidic, and have a ferning pattern that helps guide spermatozoa through the cervix. This ferning is a branching pattern seen in the mucus when observed with low magnification.
Some methods of fertility awareness involve estimating a woman's periods of fertility and infertility by observing changes in her body. Among these changes are several involving the quality of her cervical mucus: the sensation it causes at the vulva, its elasticity (spinnbarkeit), its transparency, and the presence of ferning.
Most methods of hormonal contraception work primarily by preventing ovulation, but their effectiveness is increased because they prevent the fertile types of cervical mucus from being produced. Conversely, methods of thinning the mucus may help to achieve pregnancy. One suggested method is to take guaifenesin in the few days before ovulation.
During pregnancy the cervix is blocked by a special antibacterial mucosal plug which prevents infection, somewhat similar to its state during the infertile portion of the menstrual cycle. The mucus plug comes out as the cervix dilates in labor or shortly before.
During orgasm, the cervix convulses and the external os dilates. Dr. R. Robin Baker and Dr. Mark A. Bellis, both at the University of Manchester, first proposed that this behavior worked in such a way as to draw any semen in the vagina into the uterus, increasing the likelihood of conception. Later researchers, most notably Elisabeth A. Lloyd, have questioned the logic of this theory and the quality of the experimental data used to back it.
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