Cervical mucus, fertility & acupuncture
If you are trying to conceive, you might have started tracking your cycles. The most important date when trying to make a baby within one menstrual cycle is ovulation. This is what determines your "fertile window".
One of the signs of the upcoming ovulation is the change in the vaginal discharge, also called cervical mucus.
In this article, we will go over the role of cervical mucus for fertility and how acupuncture can help you improve it.
What is cervical mucus ?
It has the incredibly important job of facilitating the sperm’s journey up the cervix in the days before ovulation, so they’re all there and waiting when the egg is dropped.
The pH of fertile mucus matches that of semen, in order to protect sperm from an environment in the vagina that is generally acidic and detrimental to the little swimmers.
Sperm can live up to five days in fertile cervical mucus, much longer than in regular mucus. It contains nutrients for the sperm, and channel-like little striations making it easy for the sperm to swim in.
The 4 different types of cervical mucus
Type 1: Lowest fertility
Thick, pasty, blocking access to the cervix.
This type is produced low down in the cervix, close to the vagina. It is infertile mucus and is often around just before or after you get your period.
Type 2: low fertility
Right after the end of your period, you’ll start to notice thin discharge with a light white color and your underwear may feel a little damp occasionally.
Type 3: intermediate fertility mucus
This type is more wet and creamy, like a lotion. It may look whitish and cloudy, or even yellowish, especially if it’s dry on your underwear. In a 28-day menstrual cycle, you may first notice this fluid around day 9 or 10.
Type 4: most fertile, the egg-white
The fertile cervical mucus you’ve been waiting for is thinner, transparent, slippery and very stretchy, and over all looks like raw egg white.
Your vagina will feel wet and lubricated, and you might feel more aroused than average. You might notice more discharge when going to the bathroom, most likely after a bowel movement, when you’ve been straining a little.
Fertile cervical mucus lasts 3-5 days on average, longer for younger women, less for older women. You are at your most fertile during this time.
Higher estrogen levels create the fertile mucus. When estrogen levels drop and progesterone appears, the fertile mucus dries up within a day.
Your peak fertility is the last day of the egg-white like mucus.
Signs of abnormal vaginal discharge
Changes in your cervical fluid secretions can signal a hormonal issue, or sometimes an infection. This can also be accompanied by changes in the length of your cycle and period. Signs of abnormal discharge include changes in:
Consistency: unusually thin or watery, or chunky and cottage-cheese like
Color: gray, green, yellow, or brown are all usually abnormal colors
Volume: unexpectedly high or low in volume
Smell: fishy, metallic, or just off
In these cases, it is always a good idea to go see a doctor.
Medications can impact cervical mucus
Antihistamines dry up mucus membranes all over the body, so if you regularly take these, you might find you don’t notice your cervical mucus.
Antibiotics can kill off good bacteria, and wreck your pH at the same time as it is killing the bad bacteria. This can lead to an overgrowth of candida and create yeast infections and thrush.
What can acupuncture and Chinese medicine do to improve cervical mucus?
Cervical mucus in traditional Chinese medicine is an abundance of yin which is the moisture of the body and supports the growth & development of the follicle as well as the shift in cervical mucus.
A lot of my fertility patients, who don't necessarily have cervical mucus problems, do report an increase in the number of days where they observe the fertile egg-white type.
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