The contribution of the cervix to sexual response: an online survey study

Olivia Giovannetti, Diane Tomalty, Shelby Gilmore, Anne Pattison, Barry Komisaruk, Sue Goldstein, Johanna Hannan, Irwin Goldstein, Caroline Pukall, Michael A. Adams

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: The role of the cervix in sexual response has been poorly studied, despite previous research indicating that some women experience pleasurable sexual sensations from cervical stimulation; given previous reports of sexual issues after cervix electrocautery, it is possible that cervical injury may compromise the role of the cervix in sexual functioning. Aim: The aims of this study were to examine locations of pleasurable sexual sensations, to identify sexual communication barriers, and to investigate if cervical procedures are associated with negative impacts on sexual function. Methods: Women with (n = 72) and without (n = 235) a history of a gynecological procedure completed an online survey assessing demographics, medical history, sexual function (including locations of sexual pleasure and pain on diagrams), and barriers. The procedure group was divided into subgroups of those who had experienced a cervical (n = 47) or noncervical (n = 25) procedure. Chi-square analyses and t tests were conducted. Outcomes: Outcomes included locations and ratings of pleasurable and painful sexual stimulation, as well as sexual function. Results: Over 16% of participants reported experiencing some pleasurable sexual sensations from the cervix. The gynecological procedure group (n = 72) reported significantly higher pain in the vagina and lower rates of pleasure in their external genitals, vagina, deep vagina, anterior and posterior vaginal walls, and clitoris vs the non–gynecological procedure (n = 235) group. The gynecological procedure group and the cervical procedure subgroup (n = 47) reported significant decreases in desire, arousal, and lubrication and increased avoidance of sexual activity due to vaginal dryness. The gynecological procedure group reported significant pain with vaginal stimulation, whereas the cervical subgroup identified significant pain with cervical and clitoral stimulation. Clinical Implications: Cervical stimulation elicits some pleasurable sexual sensations for many women, and gynecological procedures that affect the cervix are associated with pain and sexual issues; thus, health care providers should counsel patients about the possibility of related sexual concerns. Strengths and Limitations: This study is the first to examine locations of pleasure and pain and experiences of sexual pleasure and function in participants who underwent a gynecological procedure. A hybrid measure was used to assess sexual issues, including symptoms of dysfunction. Conclusion: Results indicate an association between cervical procedures and sexual issues, supporting the need to inform patients of this possibility following cervical procedures.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)49-56
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Sexual Medicine
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2023

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Medicine(all)


  • cervix uteri
  • colposcopy
  • sexual activity
  • sexual dysfunctions
  • survey


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