Goodell’s sign is one of many physical changes in the early stages of pregnancy. This sign involves cervical softening.

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Goodell’s sign can help a medical professional detect pregnancy during a physical exam, along with Chadwick’s and Hegar’s signs.

After an individual becomes pregnant, their body changes to prepare for gestation and delivery. These typically include the following changes:

  • cardiovascular
  • metabolic
  • respiratory
  • bone density

This article discusses Goodell’s sign and how to check for it, alongside other physical signs of pregnancy.

Goodell’s sign involves cervical softening, which may only be noticeable to a medical professional.

The cervix is the lower part of the uterus. It forms a narrow canal that connects the uterus to the vagina. During early pregnancy, blood vessels within the cervix increase in size.

New blood vessels help prepare the uterus to receive the fertilized egg, and the cervix softens and expands to allow the fetus to exit.

In early pregnancy, this increased blood flow causes the cervix to soften during the first 4–8 weeks — known as Goodell’s sign. This can also make the vagina and cervix appear tinged with blue or purple.

Pregnancy symptoms

Pregnant individuals may experience signs and symptoms that are more noticeable than Goodell’s sign.

Some of the most common signs of pregnancy include:

People experiencing symptoms of pregnancy may seek a pregnancy test. Both at-home and in-office tests work by analyzing urine for a particular hormone. The body produces chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) during pregnancy.

Home pregnancy tests analyze urine for the presence of the hCG hormone. These tests are easy to use and generally take fewer than 10 minutes. The instructions for a given test will appear on the packaging. It is important to follow these carefully to ensure an accurate result.

An in-office pregnancy test can confirm the results of a home pregnancy test. In-office tests examine blood for the presence of hCG. They involve a simple blood draw and are generally quick.

It is important to note that a urine pregnancy test can give a negative result when someone is pregnant. Most urine pregnancy tests need a certain amount of hCG in the system.

If a person takes the urine test prematurely, it can result in a false negative. People should speak with a doctor if they have any concerns.

Learn more about pregnancy tests.

Blood tests can also detect this hormone and confirm pregnancy earlier than a urine test.

Beyond hormonal tests, a physical exam can also indicate that an individual is pregnant. Other than Goodell’s sign, Chadwick’s and Hegar’s signs may also point to pregnancy.

Chadwick’s sign

Chadwick’s sign involves changes to the color of the vulva, cervix, and vagina. Given the increased blood flow in the cervix, these areas may take on more of a bluish color. In most cases, Chadwick’s sign is first noticeable 6–8 weeks following conception.

This sign is not necessarily an indication of pregnancy. It can also occur in individuals with endometriosis or experiencing a false pregnancy.

Hegar’s sign

As with Goodell’s sign, Hegar’s sign involves a softening of cervical tissue during pregnancy. Hegar’s sign specifically affects the cervical isthmus, the part of the cervix that connects the vaginal part of the cervix with the uterus.

This sign generally appears between 4 and 6 weeks of pregnancy. It typically disappears during the pregnancy and may only be visible until week 12.

In most cases, checking for Goodell’s sign will require a doctor’s visit. During this visit, a doctor can examine the cervix as an individual reclines with their legs held in padded stirrups. They can then palpate the cervix to determine whether it has softened.

During this examination, a doctor can also test for Hegar’s sign by checking for changes to the cervical isthmus. They can also examine the color of the cervix, uterus, and vagina to test for Chadwick’s sign.

Although these physical signs can indicate pregnancy, a medical professional will conduct a blood or urine test.

Certain symptoms during pregnancy may be a sign of a serious medical issue. Symptoms that may require medical attention include:

  • ongoing vaginal bleeding
  • stomach pain that is severe or ongoing
  • fever
  • uncontrollable vomiting
  • unexpected vision changes

If these or other worrying symptoms occur, a person should call or visit a doctor. Although these symptoms may not indicate a serious issue, only a medical professional can assess them accurately.

Goodell’s sign involves softening of the cervix during early pregnancy. Other signs, such as Chadwick’s and Hegar’s, may also occur during the first few months of pregnancy.

These and other symptoms may occur as the body changes to accommodate a developing fetus. Individuals noticing such symptoms should speak with a doctor to learn more. They may take an at-home pregnancy test or receive an in-office test.

Although Goodell’s sign may not be as obvious as other pregnancy symptoms, it may help a medical professional recognize a pregnancy during a physical exam.