The cervix is the lower, narrow part of the uterus. It is the passageway between the uterus and the vagina, allowing for sperm to enter the uterus for conception, sealing the womb during pregnancy, and widening (dilating) to allow the baby to pass through the birth canal during childbirth.
While the cervix’s role in reproduction is well-documented, little is known about its potential role in sexual response/pleasure. The authors of a new study sought to change this by conducting an online survey of 307 women: 72 with a history of gynecological procedure and 235 without a history of gynecological procedure.
These participants, who were recruited via online advertisements, were asked to provide information on their demographics and health history, the types of sexual stimulation they found pleasurable, the locations of sexual sensations, their sexual function and pleasure, and their comfort with discussing sexual health with a health care provider.
Most of the women in this study identified as heterosexual and were between the ages of 21 and 30 years. About a quarter of the participants (23.5%) had undergone a gynecologic procedure, with loop electrosurgical excision procedure (LEEP) being the most commonly reported procedure. LEEP involves removing cancerous or precancerous cells from the cervix with a wire loop heated by an electrical current, resulting in the loss of part of the cervix while effectively treating the condition.
For this survey, participants were asked to indicate the locations of pleasurable and painful sensations during sexual activity on labeled images. They were also asked to rate the amount of pleasure they felt from each of the following types of stimulation: clitoral stimulation, vaginal stimulation (defined as “when something is put inside your vagina”), deep vaginal stimulation (“when something is put inside your vagina past the length of your fingers”), and cervical stimulation (“when something is put inside of your vagina and touches the cervix at the end of your vagina”). Lastly, participants completed the 6-item Female Sexual Function Index (FSFI).
The researchers found that most of the women (70.8%) found clitoral stimulation to be the most pleasurable, 16.9% favored deep vaginal stimulation, 10.4% vaginal stimulation, and 0.3% cervical stimulation. Five participants did not answer this question.
Though just 0.3% of the participants found cervical stimulation to be the most pleasurable type of stimulation, 16.3% indicated that they felt pleasurable sensations from the cervical stimulation.
What’s more, the women in the gynecological procedure group reported higher rates of pain and lower rates of pleasure in the external genitals, vagina, deep vagina, anterior and posterior vaginal walls, and clitoris than the women in the non-gynecological procedure group. Additionally, the sub-analysis of the gynecological procedure group revealed that those who had a cervical procedure specifically reported significant pain with cervical and clitoral stimulation. Those who had undergone a gynecological procedure (of any type) reported decreased desire, arousal, and lubrication, and increased avoidance of sex due to vaginal dryness than the other women.
While further research must be done to build upon this study, the results suggest that cervical stimulation is pleasurable for many women, and gynecological procedures may have a detrimental effect on a woman’s sexual functioning.
For more information on this topic, please read these publications from The Journal of Sexual Medicine.
Women's Clitoris, Vagina, and Cervix Mapped on the Sensory Cortex: fMRI Evidence
Cervix Stimulation Evokes Predominantly Subthreshold Synaptic Responses in Mouse Thoracolumbar and Lumbosacral Superficial Dorsal Horn Neurons
Sexual Function after Loop Electrosurgical Excision Procedure for Cervical Dysplasia
Giovannetti, O., Tomalty, D., Gilmore, S., Pattison, A., Komisaruk, B., Goldstein, S., Hannan, J., Goldstein, I., Pukall, C., & Adams, M. A. (2023). The contribution of the cervix to sexual response: an online survey study. The Journal of Sexual Medicine, 20(1), 49-56. https://doi.org/10.1093/jsxmed/qdac010