The cervix is the lower end of the womb (uterus). It is at the top of the vagina. It is about 2.5 to 3.5 centimeters (1 to 1.3 inches) long. The cervical canal passes through the cervix. It allows blood from a menstrual period and a baby (fetus) to pass from the womb into the vagina. The sperm travel from the vagina up the cervical canal into the uterine cavity, then into the fallopian tubes to fertilize the egg.
Conditions that affect the cervix include:
- Cervical cancer
- Cervical infection
- Cervical inflammation
- Cervical intraepithelial neoplasia (CIN) or dysplasia
- Cervical polyps
- Cervical pregnancy
- Cervical incompetence in pregnancy
A Pap smear is a screening test to check for premalignant (precancerous) changes that can lead to cancer of the cervix. When HPV (human papillomavirus) screening is done, the test specimen is also collected from the cervix.
Baggish MS. Anatomy of the cervix. In: Baggish MS, Karram MM, eds. Atlas of Pelvic Anatomy and Gynecologic Surgery. 5th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2021:chap 42.
Cervix. Taber's Cyclopedic Medical Dictionary. 24th ed. F.A. Davis Company; 2021.
Gilks B. Uterus: cervix. In: Goldblum JR, Lamps LW, McKenney JK, Myers JL, eds. Rosai and Ackerman's Surgical Pathology. 11th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2018:chap 32.
National Cancer Institute website. NCI dictionaries. Cervix.
Last reviewed on: 1/1/2023
Reviewed by: John D. Jacobson, MD, Professor Emeritus, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Loma Linda University School of Medicine, Loma Linda, CA. Also reviewed by David C. Dugdale, MD, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.