Tuesday, 17 March 2015

What is Cervical Mucous and Why is it Important?

Women pregnancy 

Increase Cervical Mucous to Get Pregnant
It is common for a woman to experience some vaginal dryness throughout her childbearing years, but if this continues it may make it difficult to get pregnant. Who knew that getting “wet” down there was not only important to the comfort and ease of enjoying intercourse, but for making a baby as well. The cervical mucous a woman produces actually helps in conception efforts. Here’s how…

What is Cervical Mucous and Why is it Important?

The cervix produces different types of mucous depending on where a woman is at in her menstrual cycle. Just after menstruation, the cervix produces a fluid that is thick and acidic which is designed to prevent sperm from entering the vagina. This is known as infertile mucous.

Fertile cervical mucous (CM), also known as cervical fluid (CF) is produced by your cervix as ovulation approaches. Cervical mucous is necessary for allowing the sperm to swim freely through the cervix. You can see it come from the vagina, or as wetness on your underwear or feel it inside of the vagina. Changes in CM can be charted and may be used to detect your most fertile time. When a woman is about to ovulate there should be an increase in cervical mucous, as well as a change in the mucous texture, from “wet” to a more pliable, stretchy, egg white like mucous. This is possible through an increase in both water and electrolyte content, and a reduction in acidity. This higher electrolyte content can be seen with an ovulation microscope as a ferning pattern. Healthy fertile cervical mucus nourishes the sperm, protects them from the natural acidity of the vagina, and guides them toward the ovum.

Charting cervical mucous changes is known as the Ovulation Method. In a comparative study of 15 different methods of fertility charting, including the most common methods used to determine ovulation signs, cervical mucous charting alone proved to be the most accurate way to detect a woman’s most fertile time.

Low to No Cervical Mucous
You may have noticed that you have vaginal dryness at times, but if this is becoming a regular occurrence, it may be a sign something is not functioning properly. If you have continual vaginal dryness and cannot detect cervical mucous at all, you may need to support your body in producing cervical mucous once again.

For women that have low or no cervical fluid, it is harder for the sperm to reach the vagina and beyond for conception. In some cases there may not be a friendly environment for the sperm to sustain themselves. A woman may have developed antisperm antibodies, have some type of infection (yeast or bacterial infection, STD), or may eat a diet high in acidic foods which may cause Cervical Hostility.

Causes of Low Cervical Mucous

*Not enough water intake each day.
*Poor circulation to the reproductive organs; sedentary lifestyle.
*Hormonal imbalance may cause changes to the entire menstrual cycle, which may inhibit production of fertile cervical mucous. Both low progesterone and estrogen levels may cause low cervical mucous production.
*Fertility medications containing hormones can alter fertile cervical mucous production.
*Cervical fibroid (very rare).
*Loop electrosurgical excision procedure (LEEP) and cryosurgery damage for cervical dysplasia or HPV. These procedures can in some cases cause cervical scar tissue damage which may close off the ducts that secrete the cervical mucous. This is very rare.

Note: None of the natural options below will be helpful for those with cervical scar tissue damage. Scar tissue damage from LEEP or cryosurgery or fibroid damage need to be discussed with your medical doctor.

More so, as you approach ovulation, your estrogen levels begin to surge, which causes your cervix to secrete more cervical mucus that is of a so-called “fertile quality”. This fertile-quality cervical mucus, also known as egg white cervical mucus (EWCM), is clear and stretchy, similar to the consistency of egg whites, and is the perfect protective medium for sperm in terms of texture and pH.

So, having enough egg white cervical mucus during your fertile window actually improves your chances of conceiving. And, by noticing when your body is producing egg white cervical mucus, you will be able to identify your most fertile days.

The most accurate way to identify changes in your cervical mucus is to collect and observe a sample of mucus on a daily basis. To do this, wash and dry your hands well, then insert your middle or index finger into your vagina, getting as close to your cervix as possible.

Remove your finger and observe the consistency of the mucus sample by rolling the mucus between your thumb and finger and pressing your fingers together and then slowly moving them apart.

The following information describes the typical progression of the cervical mucus quantity and quality you can expect to see as you move through your menstrual cycle:

After your menstrual period: The production of cervical mucus is at its lowest immediately following your period, and some women report “dryness” during this time. But, over the next several days, more mucus will become present and it will likely be yellow, cloudy, or white in color, and somewhat sticky to the touch.
As Your Ovulation Date Approaches: As you enter your fertile window, your cervical mucus will increase in quantity and moistness. Color may be cream-like in appearance.

At the Time of Ovulation: In the days immediately preceding ovulation, the production of cervical mucus will be at its highest and the consistency and color of the mucus will be similar to egg whites. Once you detect the presence of this fertile-quality cervical mucus, you will know you are in your most fertile days.

After Ovulation: After ovulation, the quantity of cervical mucus begins to decline and become thicker in consistency.

Unfortunately, after tracking changes in your cervical mucus, you might find that you really don’t produce very much fertile-quality cervical mucus around the time of ovulation. Or, you might even realize that the cervical mucus you produce is “hostile”, meaning it is thick and sticky, instead of thin and stretchy. Either condition can hinder your reproductive efforts by making it difficult for sperm to travel efficiently and safely to the Fallopian tube to meet the egg for fertilization.

Natural Options for Increasing Cervical Mucous

1. Hydrate

Drink a lot of water throughout the day. This may be all you need, drink more water. Cervical mucous is made up of 90% water, so if you are not hydrating your body your cervical mucous production may lessen. Regardless if you use any of the supplements to help, you must drink enough water for your body to be able to make cervical mucous. Drink at least 8 full glasses of clean filtered water a day.

2. Nutritional Supplementation

Be sure you are getting enough essential fatty acids each day in your diet. If you cannot get these through the foods you are eating, you may want to consider taking a complete omega supplement which contains omega 3, 6 and 9.

Essential fatty acids help to:

*Regulate hormones
*Increase the blood flow to the uterus
*Reduce sensitivity to the hormone prolactin, which can suppress ovulation
*Increases egg white cervical mucus, which is needed to help the sperm reach the egg
*Helps your cycle to become normalized
All of these key areas are vital to healthy, adequate cervical mucous production.

Evening Primrose Oil (EPO) has been used by herbalists for hundreds of years to increase cervical mucous. Evening Primrose Oil is high in omega 6. This plant oil has been shown to increase cervical mucous production while also aiding in hormonal balance.

Borage seed oil is also high in omega-6 essential fatty acids. It has been shown to increase cervical mucous and balance hormones and is similar to Evening primrose oil.

L-Arginine is an essential amino acid supplement which may help to promote cervical mucous by supporting the production of nitric oxide (NO). Nitric oxide dilates blood vessels and helps to increase blood flow to the uterus, ovaries, and genitals. Proper circulation to the reproductive organs is vital to the production of cervical mucous. L-Arginine promotes cervical mucous production.

3. Herbs that support healthy cervical mucous production

Herbs that are demulcent and bitter are supportive of mucous membrane function. Some herbs are known to increase circulation to the genitals, which may also be helpful. Herbs that support hormonal balance may also be useful.

Dandelion leaf and root (Taraxacum officinale): Bitter herb, stimulating to mucous membrane secretion. Nutritive, supports liver health for hormonal balance.
Licorice root (Glycyrrhiza glabra): Demulcent, promote healthy mucous membrane secretions. Supports hormonal balance through endocrine support.
Marshmallow root (Althea officinalis): Demulcent and soothing to mucous membranes, support natural health for proper function of mucous production.
Red Clover aerial parts, blossom (Trifolium pratense): Red Clover has been shown to increase cervical mucous, aiding vaginal dryness. Increases circulation to the reproductive organs.
Shatavari root (Asparagus racemosus): This herb is a demulcent. Herbs that have a demulcent action contain mucilage. Mucilage lines the mucous membranes and acts as a protector and tonic for those membranes. Shatavari contains mucilage, this may be helpful for women with low cervical mucous.
Making some of these herbs into a tea will also help to support daily hydration! To learn about other herbs that support a variety of fertility related issues contact Food Clinic

4. Use a sperm friendly lubricant prior to intercourse

Did you know that most lubricants can actually harm sperm? Luckily there are some natural options that have been shown not to harm sperm. These lubricants supply lubrication when cervical mucous is lacking. Using a sperm friendly lubricant may help the sperm to reach their destination, which is past your cervix!

The production of healthy cervical mucous is vital for conception, as it supports the sperm in reaching the ova. Without fertile cervical mucous this cannot happen as easily. Cervical mucous is also a wonderful tool for detecting a woman’s peak fertile time. There are many natural options for supporting healthy cervical mucous production…

1. Stay hydrated by drinking plenty of clean water each day!

2. Consider important nutritional supplements that support cervical mucous production including omega essential fatty acids, L-Arginine and Evening Primrose Oil.

3. Many herbs can support the health of our mucous membranes, including how they function. Many of those same herbs also support hormonal balance, which is necessary for appropriate cervical fluid changes.

4. In the meantime, while you are working on the other 3 steps, consider using a natural lubricant to support the sperm in reaching the ova!

Source: Women health.gov ., Baby center ., American Pregnancy association 

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