// photo : Tumblr
It’s crazy to me that after 27+ years of living in this body—& even with the work that I do now in the realm of sexual liberation—how much of an estranged relationship I have with my sexual organs.
I mentioned this to Jonathan recently & he gave a very fair reply: “Well, don’t be too hard on yourself. Most of your sexual organs are internal, so. . .”
Yes, that’s true. But I don’t think that’s a good enough excuse.
I think as women, especially those of us who are seeking sexual sovereignty, it is imperative for us to know our bodies, to familiarize ourselves with our anatomy & the intricate systems that are at work within it. Even if most of it’s internal. Especially if most of it’s internal.
I’ve written about this before, about the importance of knowing our bodies intimately, of making an effort to forge a consistent & healthy relationship with our genitals & sexual network by way of self-discovery. And while I am much more cognizant about my anatomy these days, I admit I could go deeper with it.
And recently I did. Literally.
I began this exploration of my cavernous anatomy at my good friend (& full-spectrum doula) Samantha Zipporah‘s workshop, Spelunking With Spekulums. This was a pretty big step for me, because one of the reasons for this gathering was so that we, the workshop goers, had a safe, collective space to see our cervixes right there if we wanted to.
I should mention that I’d never seen my cervix before. I’ve never had a real desire to. I’ve been curious about it sometimes, but mostly felt that it was tucked up in there for a reason: to be left alone, to be a silent force in my life—unless of course there was something wrong with it, & then I’d leave it in the hands of my ob/gyn.
So the relationship I’ve had with my cervix—if I could even call it a relationship—was really only experienced through the hands of my doctors, never through my own curiosity or sense of nurturing.
I was actually quite embarrassed when, in the workshop, as we were going briefly through all the bits & bobs of the female anatomy, I realized that I had been thinking that my cervix was my actual uterus the whole time. It was in that moment of inner humiliation that I had had enough of the willful ignorance.
I was ready to be enlightened.
So after some tea & a much-needed group schmooze about our ladybits & the relationship we’ve had with them, we came to the pièce de résistance of the workshop: It was time to meet our cervixes.
But first, we had to find them.
At that point, I believe Sam asked the room something like, “OK, are we all familiar with how to find our cervixes?” There were mostly nods around the room (which was comprised totally of midwives & birth doulas), none of them coming from me. I was still trying to wrap my head around the fact that my cervix was not actually my entire uterus.
So I spoke up. “Yeah, I have no idea where my cervix is.” I laughed to help expel my nervousness, & Sam smiled & offered to help me find it. “I can help you myself or I can walk you through the steps to find it on your own.” I picked the latter.
I headed into a tiny room on the outset of the workshop space & cracked the door. On the other side of it, Sam stood & guided me (doula’d, more like it) to finding my cervix.
“OK,” she said through the door. “Go ahead & take off your pants & underwear.”
“OK,” I said, pulling my undergarments off.
“And lube yourself up a little with coconut oil.”
“. . .OK.”
“And whenever you’re ready, get into kind of a squat position.”
“. . . Alright.”
“Now, reach a finger into your vagina & bear down like you’re taking a poo.”
Thankfully, I knew what “bear down” means, thanks to consistent use of my Diva Cup (bearing down is one of the ways to remove it).
“Alright. . .” I said, assuming the position.
“And you should feel like you’re touching something firm & smooth,” said Sam, “Almost like the tip of your nose.”
I paused, waiting to feel an undeniable wet something at the tip of my fingertip that felt unlike my vagina, but I didn’t feel anything. I complained a little to Sam.
“Well, you might need to use your middle finger since it’s a little longer, &—”
“—Found it!” I interrupted, squealing joyously.
She was right, it felt like the warm, damp, firm tip of my nose, & touching it felt like hitting the bullseye target in a game of darts. I felt victorious, tickled.
I remember walking back into the workshop space with this big goofy grin on my face, looking as if I’d discovered a rainbow leading to a pot of gold in the next room. I might’ve even given a hearty fist-pump to the sky as I rejoined the group. A few of the other gals were kind enough to match my girlish excitement with a few squees of their own, but I could sense that it was no big whoop for them. Being midwives, the cervix & all its wild wonders seemed to be a bit normalized for them.
Actually, I’m glad that I was surrounded by non-squeamish midwives when I eventually sat down & put a speculum in my vagina. It made the experience—which was already ripe with awkward feelings & nervousness—a lot less strange.
So much so that I eventually invited all of them to take a look at my cervix, too.
Of course, that wasn’t a necessary part of the workshop. No one had to share their cervixes with the group. But I don’t know what it was—maybe the open, non-judgmental atmosphere of the workshop or if I was still riding on waves of elation at finding my cervix—I felt inspired to show & tell.
And there I was. . . my pants off & legs butterflied open, a flashlight in one hand, a mirror in the other with a speculum prying me open. I couldn’t believe I was actually doing this, in front of women I had only met an hour before. But I was, & it felt incredibly liberating.
So. I saw my cervix. She was bright red & pink in some parts, & slightly engorged with blood. I saw my os, a tiny O-shaped entrance to my uterus, which I could’ve swore winked at me. I saw the innermost part of my body that I bleed from, that I would birth from, that I create from.
And even though I had been mostly blissfully unaware of its existence, I felt an immediate connection with this part of my body, like I was reuniting with a dear friend after years of needless estrangement.
Seeing my cervix was like coming home.
I want to meet her again, to get to know her better & to show her off to Jonathan (who, let’s be real, has had way more of a consistent relationship with my inner anatomy than I have), so I took the plastic speculum home to do more solo self-exam in the future.
Here’s a few fun things I learned about my cervix:
1. Pound for pound, the cervix is the strongest muscle in my body.
2. My cervix is slightly tilted, which might be the cause of my painful periods.
3. My cervix is a part of my uterus, making my initial thought that it’s my uterus half correct.
Know thy body, know thy self!
/ / /
Want to explore your own cavernous anatomy?
If you want to meet & learn more about your own beautiful wild cave (& see your os wink at you), here’s an awesome resource:
You can also buy a speculum at Babeland if you want the full kit.
And check out my friend Sam’s work. She just recently had another spelunking workshop here in Portland, & might do another in the future.
* NSFW, or for the squeamish.