Sperm cells tire easily and need plenty of energy to be able to swim from the vagina to the uterus and then up the fallopian tubes where hopefully a princess egg will be waiting for her knight.
Your Cervical Mucus and How It Affects Your FertilityWhat is cervical mucus? Cervical mucus is what you call the fluid (or at times gel-like substance) that your cervix releases into the vagina. Changing throughout various phases in a woman's menstrual cycle, the cervical mucus varies in thickness according to the hormonal stimuli (or hormonal fluctuations) in the body.
Because your cervical mucus can tell so much about your body, it is used to predict ovulation and your fertile (or infertile window). Cervical mucus varies from one person to another since plenty of factors can affect your cervical mucus, like diet, meds or birth control. However, women can expect cervical mucus to change in various phases of your menstrual cycle.
Typical Cervical Mucus TimelineYou can expect the following changes in your cervical mucus:
- Dry or absent cervical discharge: This usually happens after your period. In some cases, you may not notice any cervical mucus present.
- Stretchy, rubbery, cloudy mucus: Before ovulation, you may notice that your body will produce more mucus compared to the days following your period. Your cervical mucus may feel gluey or stretchy at this time.
- Relatively clearer, slippery, watery cervical mucus: If you're nearing your ovulation, you may feel that your mucus is starting to get more slippery and transparent than the other days.
- Egg white-like, clear, stretchy cervical mucus: Cervical mucus during your ovulation is clear, stretchy and may remind you of egg whites. This is the best time to try to conceive with your partner since this is where your mucus has the right pH and consistency for the sperm to live.
What Dangers Lurk in the Dark Waters of the Vagina?There are many ways your cervical mucus can affect your fertility, especially when we're talking about cervical mucus as an environment for the sperm to thrive in on its journey to the egg. Here are a few things to consider:
- Hostile mucus. Firstly, there is the pH of the mucus and the vagina. If it’s too acidic not only will the sperm be immobilized – unable to swim any further but they will die very soon.
- Not enough mucus. Secondly, if there is not enough mucus around, sperm will feel like fish out of water and as you can imagine will not be able to reach the safety of the uterus.
- Deadly lubricants. Thirdly, if you used a lubricant to help things along the sperm will probably not make it either as most lubricants are deadly for sperm.
- Bacterial overgrowth. Fourthly, if you use saliva to lubricate or if you have unfriendly bacteria overgrowth in your vagina, the sperm is at great risk of being injured or killed by the bad guys. The Human mouth is a haven for bacteria and saliva has no shortage of bacteria (in fact a human bite is known to contain more bacteria than a dog bite!).
What Do Sperm Like?The optimal environment for the sperm is:
- Friendly mucus: that is, an alkaline ph, which helps the sperm swim faster and nourishes it along the way.
- A lot of alkaline mucus is like diving into the deep blue ocean for the sperm. It ensures that the road to the uterus is smooth and effortless.
- No nasty bacteria to contend with – keeping the vagina healthy.
What About Hostile Mucus?First of all, what is hostile cervical mucus?
Hostile cervical mucus is cervical which is unfriendly or toxic to the sperm. When we say cervical hostility, this is where a woman's cervical mucus 'attacks' the sperm before it has a chance to reach and fertilize the egg. With hostile mucus, the sperm won't be able to fertilize the egg, making it harder for women to conceive.
Did you know that 200 to 300 million sperm released during ejaculation, only a few hundred are able to get close enough to the egg? This means that any slight alteration to the cervical mucus may eliminate the possibility of a sperm fertilizing the egg. Because of this, experts say that hostile mucus contributes to unexplained infertility in couples or individuals trying to conceive.
What Causes Hostile Uterus?There are various factors that can prompt the cervical mucus to change. A few factors that may contribute to causing hostile cervical mucus include the following:
- Poor lifestyle and food choices. Taking in too much sugar, processed food, caffeine, meat or dairy can make the cervical mucus acidic. An acidic cervical mucus is the last thing a sperm needs since it thrives in an alkaline environment.
- Anti-sperm antibodies (ASA). Too many anti-sperm antibodies in the cervical mucus can make you 'allergic' to your partner's sperm. When this is the case, these ASA may kill your sperm or prevent them from reaching your cervix.
- Bacterial infections. Bacterial infections may also contribute to killing off the sperm—the bacteria-tainted mucus may damage the sperm as it enters the female reproductive tract.
- Changes in cervical mucus. Hormonal changes, medicines and lifestyle and diet choices may prompt the cervical mucus to change and become too dense for the sperm to travel in. Once the cervical mucus is too thick or absent, the sperm will be unable to travel to the cervix.
8 Hostile Mucus Treatment Tips: What to Do If You Have Hostile Cervical Mucus?
If you are having trouble getting pregnant and suspect that you have hostile mucus, you can try these 8 easy tips to help your mucus become sperm friendly:
1. Ensure a Good Vaginal HealthVaginas clean themselves and can take care of their environment alone, provided your diet and lifestyle are healthy. Optimize your vaginal health by:
- incorporating plenty of fruits and vegetables into your diet
- making good lifestyle choices (like quitting smoking, sleeping early, exercising regularly)
2. Include Probiotics in Your DietThe gut flora (bacteria in your gut) also colonize your vagina. Eat sufficient probiotics or yogurt with Bifidus and acidophilus cultures to keep your vagina healthy and help address hostile mucus.
3. Wear Breathable UndiesWear cotton underwear and loose-fitting clothes to allow your vagina to breathe.
4. Stay CleanAlways wipe from the front to back (and not the other way around) to prevent bacteria from the feces from reaching the vagina.
5. Be Thrush-freeModerate your intake of sugary foods, alcohol and white flour products to minimize the likelihood of thrush.
6. Learn More About Your Cervical MucusLearn fertility awareness to be able to tell the difference between sperm-friendly mucus and hostile mucus. Observe your cervical mucus during various phases of your menstrual cycle and learn about which kind of cervical mucus indicates your fertile window (note: it's the egg white one!).
7. Hydration + Foreplay = Natural LubricationFor lubrication, use longer foreplay and drink lots of water during the day to help your body produce natural lubrication.
8. Don’t use Pre-Seed lubricant as it contains parabensParabens are known as endocrine disruptors and xenoestrogens and can predispose you to breast cancer and other hormone-dependent cancers. These substances also disrupt fertility and predispose the baby in-utero to developing fertility and hormone issues later in life.
Your cervical mucus has a lot to do with your fertility. Besides indicating your fertile window through its consistency, your cervical mucus determines whether your sperm thrives or dies within your reproductive tract. Sadly, if you have hostile mucus, your cervical mucus attacks sperm or prevents it from reaching your cervix, which makes it harder for you or your partner to conceive.Since the factors affecting cervical hostility are mostly diet and lifestyle related, you can correct hostile mucus by making better (healthier) diet and lifestyle choices and following the tips above.
Have you ever considered the possibility that hostile mucus may be impacting your ability to conceive? Let us know!
Nakano, F. Y., Leão, R. D. B. F., & Esteves, S. C. (2015). Cervical Hostility and Vaginal pH in Females with Unexplained Infertility. In Unexplained Infertility (pp. 175-183). Springer, New York, NY. Retrieved from: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/283825516_Cervical_Hostility_and_Vaginal_pH_in_Females_with_Unexplained_Infertility