Cervixes are dynamic, incredible organs that can change shape, consistency, feel, and even almost disappear entirely at different points of menstruation, ovulation, pregnancy loss, and birthing.
Most of the time, when we’re not menstruating, and not ovulating, our cervix is relatively hard and closed tight. This is an evolutionary mechanism that keeps our cervix from just hanging out open and potentially being a pathway of vulnerability into the body. By contrast, the cervix must be open at least a small amount during menstruation and ovulation, and the regular discharge during these times still acts as protection despite our open cervixes.
But there are times, when our cervixes are tightly closed, when we’d like to encourage them to soften. These might include:
You’re waiting on your period to come and want to encourage it to come faster
You’re preparing for an IUD insertion
You’re preparing for a menstrual extraction
You’re preparing for an abortion
You’re experiencing a missed miscarriage and want to encourage the body to release
You’re pregnant, full term, and ready to encourage the body to go into labour (or you need to go into labour now, for some particular reason)
Essentially, a time when you know something is going to go into or come out of your cervix and you want to make that easier and less painful.
When softening and opening a cervix, one can either rely on natural methods (herbs, oils, etc.), or on pharmaceutical and mechanical methods.
Over years of practice and soliciting advice from other skilled practitioners, these are the suggestions I typically extend to people trying to soften their cervixes without pharmaceuticals or mechanical dilation. I usually caution it can take a few days to work (in the case of someone not pregnant or in early pregnancy), or weeks to work (in the case of advanced pregnancy), and as everyone’s body reacts differently to different methods, we can’t guarantee efficacy with any one suggestion.
In addition, it would be important for the person looking at softening their cervix to consider any other vitamins, herbs, supplements, or medications they are on, and consider if there may be any interactions with their chosen cervical-softening-ally.
Fresh parsley leaves inserted vaginally can work wonders at softening a cervix! Flat leaf or curly leaf parsley are both fine, though I prefer the flat leaf. I always select organic parsley since it’s going inside by vagina. I take a small bundle of sprigs, held between my fingers, stems trimmed to just be about 2 inches long (or to your preference), and insert it vaginally so the leaves are resting up against the cervix. It’s a little uncomfortable at first, but the heat and moisture of the body softens everything quickly and you don’t really feel it. Change this bundle every 8-12 hours. I usually advise this for about three days in advance of needing the cervix well softened. Pro-tip: because our mucous membranes are connected in the body, you’re likely to taste parsley in your mouth, while it is held in your vagina. Wild!
Evening Primrose Oil or Borage Oil
The gamma linolenic acid (GLA) in evening primrose and borage oils have well-known cervical softening properties and have been used my midwives, physicians, and all kinds of healthcare providers and supporters and a gentle way to help cervixes soften and open in a variety of contexts. Very little research has proven benefits, but experience shows efficacy.
The GLA content of borage oil is higher than that of evening primrose oil, and borage oil is often considerably cheaper. However, you’ll want to source the highest quality you can afford, and there’s often more a variety of quality, including high quality, evening primrose oil available.
Whichever you take, you can choose to take it orally or vaginally. I see slightly faster/better results with vaginal administration, but it’s up to you!
Oral: take two capsules twice daily
Vaginal: insert two capsules vaginally as high up as they can go before you lie down to sleep. Consider sleeping on a towel or with a pantiliner as it might leak.
You can also get oil that is not contained in capsules, or open the capsules to get the oil, and put it on your finger and apply it directly to your cervix if you feel comfortable with that.
Again, you’ll have to do this for a few days (in the case of someone not pregnant or in early pregnancy), or a few weeks (in the case of advanced pregnancy) to see results
I don’t have personal experience with lobelia tincture but have had enough trusted friends and colleagues recommend it that it bears mentioning here. More than once I’ve heard of friends attempting menstrual extraction, with a speculum in place visualizing the cervix, have the person take drops of lobelia tincture on their tongue and visually see the cervix soften before their eyes. Lobelia is also commonly included in traditional labour-prep tinctures as an element to encourage labour in a term pregnancy.
Typically, I hear a range of recommended doses from 1-6 drops (not pregnant, early pregnancy) to 60-120 drops (full term pregnant), often just once. Individual bodies may tolerate more or less. Too much lobelia often causes vomiting.
Cervixes are dynamic, incredible organs that shift between hard and soft on their own given a variety of factors, and typically in response to hormonal changes and events (menstruation, ovulation, pregnancy, birth, etc.). AND we encourage our cervixes to soften up even when they’re in a rigid phase if we need to, using plants and oils.