At your cervix

Pub date October 31, 2006

Dear Andrea:
As long as I can remember, I’ve had a fascination with gyno play and playing doctor. I had never acted upon it until meeting my current boyfriend. We’ve begun experimenting with speculums, various insertable objects, vibrators, etc. We are always very careful to be sterile and safe.
I’ve grown more and more interested in the idea of cervical dilation and cervical insertions but have been unable to find any literature on the subject. Apparently, I am the only human alive with such a fascination. I have looked online and found several varieties of uterine sounds but always in context of urethral play, not cervical stretching.
I understand that any cervical penetration has the possibility of causing cramps or other pain, but I am anxious and willing to experiment with this aspect of such play. My concern is safety. Any information?
Stretch me
Dear Stretch:
Questions like this always remind me of a kids’ science show I used to watch, starring the performance artist Paul Zaloom and some guy in a ratty old rat costume. Seriously, this existed. I’m not making it up. In one episode Paul was explaining how to grow a particularly odoriferous bacteria colony in an old tennis shoe when he broke off midsentence, looked directly into the camera, and said, “Don’t even do this.” That’s how I feel when people ask me about certain extreme and possibly harmless but just a little bit potentially fatal practices. Do something else. Don’t even do this.
Cervical stretching and sounding are, of course, accomplished every day in thousands of gynecologists’ offices and with no lasting harm to the patient. That’s how you get IUDs in and unwanted tissues out, provided, of course, that “you” are a trained medical professional. It isn’t the pain that worries me. I understand that you’re up for that, and, you know, go crazy, although having been the recipient of several antepartum “internals,” I can assure you that the sensation is … let’s call it “challenging” and leave it at that. You know that’s how they determine how close you are to going into labor, right? A doctor or midwife rummages around in there, eventually emerging to announce that you’re only “a fingertip” dilated. Guess what high-tech, finely calibrated device is used to determine that? No, really. Guess.
So, yes, cervical stretching hurts like 12 kinds of mofo, but that’s not our concern here. I’m afraid of you perforating something, introducing outside-world bacteria to your insides, or both. I don’t need to tell you how badly that could go for you, and only you can decide if it’s worth the risk.
It isn’t true that there’s absolutely no information on this out there — there’s just very, very little of it. There’s probably something in BME, the Body Modification Ezine, although you may have to join to get to some of their more esoteric content. I imagine the extreme practitioner C.M. Hurt knows something about cervical play if anyone does, but the closest thing I could find among her writings was an article (on about female catheterization play that you might enjoy. A place called Eros Boutique carries every conceivable type of sound and catheter, and medical books and sites with instructions for inserting an IUD could walk you through the steps necessary to prepare for messing with your cervix. That’s all I’ve got. I could tell you that in order to introduce something, say, a little catheter full of sperm for intrauterine insemination, into the uterus, they sometimes have to grab the cervix with a clawlike thing called a “tenaculum” (Could that word be more vivid? Half tentacle, half speculum?), but I’m afraid that given your proclivities, it would only encourage you.
This is very strange for me — up till now, whenever someone has asked me about inserting things into the female urethra, I’ve said, in a word, “don’t,” and for good reason. Unlike the longer and hardier male version, the female urethra is only a few inches long and kind of fragile. It’s a very short trip to the bladder, which really doesn’t want you dragging in dirt all over its nice clean floor. So while I generally counsel people, especially beginners, to leave the urethra alone and go play someplace safe, like the vagina, I’m going to take a flyer and suggest the urethra as a slightly safer alternative to the cervix if you absolutely must go poking in places where you’re not invited. At least you can sort of resanitize it by peeing afterwards. You may also feel free to be cranked open with a speculum, even a cold speculum for that frisson of gynecological authenticity, and prodded about the cervix with a gloved finger. It is possible — oh, so very possible — to create some quite intensely painful sensations in that region without ever attempting entry. I can’t, in good conscience, support your friend playing doctor in the sanctum sanctorum there. I just can’t.
Andrea Nemerson has spent the last 14 years as a sex educator and an instructor of sex educators. In her previous life she was a prop designer. And she just gave birth to twins, so she’s one bad mother of a sex adviser. Visit to view her previous columns.