We are independent & ad-supported. We may earn a commission for purchases made through our links.
Advertiser Disclosure
Our website is an independent, advertising-supported platform. We provide our content free of charge to our readers, and to keep it that way, we rely on revenue generated through advertisements and affiliate partnerships. This means that when you click on certain links on our site and make a purchase, we may earn a commission. Learn more.
How We Make Money
We sustain our operations through affiliate commissions and advertising. If you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase, we may receive a commission from the merchant at no additional cost to you. We also display advertisements on our website, which help generate revenue to support our work and keep our content free for readers. Our editorial team operates independently of our advertising and affiliate partnerships to ensure that our content remains unbiased and focused on providing you with the best information and recommendations based on thorough research and honest evaluations. To remain transparent, we’ve provided a list of our current affiliate partners here.

What is the Endocervical Canal?

A. Pasbjerg
By
Updated Feb 07, 2024
Our promise to you
WiseGeek is dedicated to creating trustworthy, high-quality content that always prioritizes transparency, integrity, and inclusivity above all else. Our ensure that our content creation and review process includes rigorous fact-checking, evidence-based, and continual updates to ensure accuracy and reliability.

Our Promise to you

Founded in 2002, our company has been a trusted resource for readers seeking informative and engaging content. Our dedication to quality remains unwavering—and will never change. We follow a strict editorial policy, ensuring that our content is authored by highly qualified professionals and edited by subject matter experts. This guarantees that everything we publish is objective, accurate, and trustworthy.

Over the years, we've refined our approach to cover a wide range of topics, providing readers with reliable and practical advice to enhance their knowledge and skills. That's why millions of readers turn to us each year. Join us in celebrating the joy of learning, guided by standards you can trust.

Editorial Standards

At WiseGeek, we are committed to creating content that you can trust. Our editorial process is designed to ensure that every piece of content we publish is accurate, reliable, and informative.

Our team of experienced writers and editors follows a strict set of guidelines to ensure the highest quality content. We conduct thorough research, fact-check all information, and rely on credible sources to back up our claims. Our content is reviewed by subject-matter experts to ensure accuracy and clarity.

We believe in transparency and maintain editorial independence from our advertisers. Our team does not receive direct compensation from advertisers, allowing us to create unbiased content that prioritizes your interests.

The area between the uterus and the vagina in the female reproductive system is called the endocervical canal. At the top end lies the internal orifice of the uterus, or the internal os. This is the opening to the uterine cavity. At the bottom is the external os, which leads to the vagina.

The average length of the canal is about three centimeters, although it can vary from one woman to the next. It is a narrow, flat channel surrounded by thick, smooth muscle and connective tissue. Several folds, called palmate folds, run the length of the structure. The lining of the canal contains numerous mucus-producing cells. The mucus changes throughout the course of a woman’s menstrual cycle, with a more fertile type hospitable to sperm being produced around the time of ovulation.

An area called the squamocolumnar junction marks where the cells of the exterior cervix change to those of the endocervical canal. The region where the change occurs is not typically clearly delineated and can vary from one woman to the next. When a woman has a Pap smear, the doctor will typically try to get a sample of both types. This allows for evaluation of any abnormal cells in either area.

One of the main reasons doctors want to look at both exterior and endocervical cells is that different types of cancer can arise in each area. Squamous cell cancer affects the exterior cells. Adenocarcinomas, which occur much less frequently, arise in the glandular cells of the endocervical canal. If a gynecologist is unable to obtain both types of cells in a Pap smear, this should be noted in the results and discussed with the patient, since it represents a risk factor.

If cancer is suspected, the doctor will often perform an endocervical curettage. This procedure involves scraping a tissue sample from the endocervical canal using a small, scoop-shaped instrument called a curette. The sample can then be viewed under a microscope to confirm if cancer is present.

The endocervical canal plays an important role during both pregnancy and labor. For most of a pregnancy, the canal is a rigid structure, which helps to keep the fetus in the uterus. Later on, a few weeks prior to the due date, the walls begin to thin out and soften in a process called cervical ripening. This prepares the passageway for labor, when it will need to dilate and stretch enough for the baby’s head to pass through.

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
A. Pasbjerg
By A. Pasbjerg
Andrea Pasbjerg, a WiseGeek contributor, holds an MBA from West Chester University of Pennsylvania. Her business background helps her to create content that is both informative and practical, providing readers with valuable insights and strategies for success in the business world.
Discussion Comments
By JessiC — On Jul 18, 2011

I really wish that I could see a picture of this. I’m getting all confused over what this particular area of the body is.

I mean I know the area in which it is located; what I’m not sure of is whether or not this is the same area that is just commonly referred to as the cervix. (I know all about cervixes because I have two kids; I could not wait for my cervix to dilate and soften on their delivery days.)

But is this the same thing, or is this located behind the cervix in a less accessible place.

I have no real reason for needing to know; I just really want to know for some odd reason. There is something that drives me crazy about not being able to completely visualize this picture in my head.

Help me get this odd and yet troubling question out of my mind, please!

A. Pasbjerg
A. Pasbjerg
Andrea Pasbjerg, a WiseGeek contributor, holds an MBA from West Chester University of Pennsylvania. Her business background helps her to create content that is both informative and practical, providing readers with valuable insights and strategies for success in the business world.
WiseGeek, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.

WiseGeek, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.