By: Meghan Rogers
I didn’t know that it was possible to feel your own ovaries, uterus, cervix or any of that good stuff until a fellow Logger mentioned it to me. I was shocked.
If you have these body parts, it’s very highly recommended that you see a gynecologist for annual examinations once you turn 21. This is largely for the pap smear, where the gynecologist will take cells from your uterus and check them for HPV. Unless you have abnormal pain or other problems down there, you are not required to see a gynecologist until you turn 21.
You are able to feel your ovaries during the bimanual exam that occurs during an annual exam. This is when two fingers are used inside the vagina to feel the cervix and ovaries. If you have an interest in exploring your own body, however, you can do much of the bimanual exam yourself. Just make sure you wash your hands first!
According to Libby Baldwin, Physician Assistant at Counseling, Health and Wellness Services, many people with shorter vaginas are able to feel their cervix during menstruation or during penetrative intercourse. However, not everyone will be able to feel their cervix. The cervix lies at the back of the vaginal canal, so essentially you just need to reach as far as you can. It should feel like the tip of your nose, texture-wise, and is commonly described as resembling a small donut.
As for the ovaries, the tilt of your uterus determines whether or not you will be able to feel them. Because of this, some people will not be able to feel them unless they have a cyst and they are very enlarged. But to test it out, use two fingers to push up on your vaginal wall, which will push up your uterus and your ovaries. Then place your hand on your abdomen and press down to try to feel them from the inside and the outside. Remember, just because you don’t feel them doesn’t mean you’ve been misled your whole life — everyone is built differently!
Even though it is beneficial to be able to check your own body for discomfort or enlargement when performing this test on yourself, don’t assume that you must be able to do this to notice a problem. Serious issues with the cervix and ovaries will likely be felt severely in daily life. There are also no sexual benefits to doing either of these examinations. That being said, being able to understand your body, particularly a part of the body that has been largely been kept a mystery in education and our culture is incredibly beneficial.
“In sex ed in school, you just see those weird diagrams; they don’t actually show you on yourself where reproductive organs are at all. It’s always just in pictures.” said Emma Ferguson (‘18). “Meanwhile everyone has seen a dick, everybody knows what a penis looks like, everybody knows what balls look like, everyone knows where they are on your body and relatively how large they should be in relation to your body. But when you’re thinking about your ovaries and your uterus I had no clue where the [heck] those were, other than the fact that they were under my belly button. Because that’s all they tell you. That’s not helpful!”
Keeping up vaginal and reproductive health is very important, and having the toolbox of knowledge to be proactive about it yourself is crucial. If you don’t feel comfortable doing this on your own, feel free to get your money’s worth at your next trip to the gyno and ask your doctor for a hand!