Infertility: Fertile Cervical Mucous – Do You Have It, & Why It’s Important
One of the most common things I see in new acupuncture fertility patients, is that they don’t have good fertile cervical mucous. Or, not enough.
Most of us grow up as teens and then women, noticing that our cervical mucous changes throughout the month. But we might not notice it has a pattern to its quality, and that this pattern follows the rhythm of our cycle. Or, at least it should.
The flow of cervical mucous through our menstrual cycle
Around our period time, since in theory we can’t get pregnant, there’s no point in the body allowing foreign substances into our cervix. So mucous that creates a nice highway for things like sperm (or bacteria) to get up the passage to our uterus, dries up or is very thick and pasty.
Thick pasty mucous, when looked at under a microscope, looks like a mesh barrier with many cross-hairs overlapping each other. When seen, it’s very obvious that mucous like this in the vaginal canal could prevent pregnancy by blocking sperm from getting too far. This blocking action is what also acts as a protection against infection.
As the days get further from the period, the mucous starts to thin out and become milky. This progresses until finally, in the few days just before ovulation, in a perfect cycle the fluid becomes clear, stretchy, and slick. It looks very much like hunks of gelatinous eggwhite.
That’s why many people just call it “eggwhite” mucous. The official word is “spinnbarkeit”.
Fertile mucous leads sperm up the vaginal canal
As opposed to the pasty thick mucous from earlier in the cycle, when eggwhite mucous is looked at under a microscope, what you see is strands moving all in one direction, just like lanes on a highway. It’s like the strands are saying “Go THIS way sperm!!!” like airport traffic control workers directing the airplanes along the runway and clearing the passage of obstructions.
Eggwhite mucous happens right when a woman is at her most fertile, so the body now wants to do everything possible to help conception.
The flow of cervical mucous through the menstrual cycle is one of those fascinating, simple, yet so incredibly elegant processes of fertility that leave me in awe of the body’s amazing wisdom. What a great system it’s got going on!
Fertile mucous protects sperm
The vaginal canal is also a very hostile environment for sperm. If the right conditions are not set up, many sperm quickly die once they reach the vagina. Fertile mucous also provides a rich, safe, protective environment for the sperm to travel and hunker down for some days while awaiting the release of the woman’s egg at ovulation.
So what if you don’t have fertile mucous?
If a fertility patient comes in reporting not having fertile mucous, or if it’s scanty, or not appearing at the right time in the cycle, then we work to fix that. While not always, it’s usually the first thing fertility patients notice improves.
What causes lack of fertile mucous?
Many issues can cause it, but here’s some of the common ones:
1. The body overall lacks fluids.
We usually call that yin deficiency. These women might also have dryness manifesting as feeling too thirsty, dry skin, and excessive heat.
Herbs help replace yin and moisture.
2. The body is too cold
In women like this, it’s like the fluids are “frozen”. If you live anywhere where it snows in the winter, you know that although there’s water everywhere in the form of snow, it’s not accessible as moisture until it melts. Winter is often the driest time of year in these climates.
The body is the same, so in women with extreme cold, often all we need to do is warm her up with herbs and suddenly her body’s fluids become accessible and start to flow.
3. The body doesn’t metabolize or process fluids well
Women like this might have issues like: drinking a ton of fluids but they go right through her, edema in tissues, too much leakage of fluids like extreme sweating, profuse urination, constant watery vaginal discharge.
These women might not need their yin replaced, but rather help with absorbing and processing fluids, so when they do intake fluids, their body can utilize them.
Acupuncturists use the words dampness or phlegm, but with my patients I like using the word “sludge” instead because most people can relate to when their body feels sludgy. These women might be prone to yeast infections, cysts or other fluidy growths in the body like lipomas, and/or lots of upper respiratory mucous production.
In these cases the fluids need to be thinned out and the body needs help with getting these excess gummy fluids/sludge out, so it can start producing the correct fertile mucous that’s not too viscous and thick.
Acupuncture for fertility
None of these are difficult fixes, but unless they ARE fixed, fertile mucous alone could be halting your attempts to get pregnant.
But I don’t want to make it sound overly simple.
Usually if there’s not good fertile mucous, it’s because of underlying issues that are also causing problems with other aspects of the menstrual cycle and other functions that must be in place for good fertility.
Luckily, except in very particular cases, Chinese medicine has the tools to address and fix those problems. Acupuncture treatments timed at specific phases throughout your cycle, along with herbs, successfully resolves many fertility related problems.
If you’ve been struggling with infertility, we’d address your cervical mucous, as well as take a very detailed look at your entire cycle to detect all the areas where we can focus our work to help you get pregnant.
If you’d like to schedule an appointment, you can do that now using the button below.