Sperm has many needs: the need for nourishment, an alkaline environment in which to live, and ease in mobility.
A woman’s fertile cervical fluid supplies it with these three things. During the follicular phase, the increasing amounts of estrogen in the body affect the consistency of your cervical fluid. Beginning with day one of your cycle (when you have the lowest amount of estrogen), you should have little to no cervical fluid. If you were to touch the inside of your vagina, it may be damp, but you wouldn’t notice anything on the outside of the vaginal opening at all. At this point an egg is not waiting to be fertilized, so there is no need to keep the sperm alive. Speaking of the sperm, they can only live about 3 to 5 hours in this environment.
As the levels of estrogen continue to rise, your cervical fluid becomes rather sticky and is usually white or slightly yellow. This is completely normal and not a sign of infection. You may even notice this fluid in small amounts on your underwear. While sperm may be able to live a bit longer, this particular fluid is too “sticky” for them to move with ease. In the days before ovulation the fluid becomes smoother and you start to feel“moist.” It’s rather creamy, or lotion like, and a good clue that ovulation will happen shortly and you are becoming fertile. Usually the day before ovulation occurs your cervical fluid will go from creamy to very wet and stretchy. It’s normally clear and is about the consistency of a raw egg white—even commonly referred to as the “egg white fluid.” During this time you may find an increased amount of fluid outside the vaginal opening and feel chronically wet. This means you now have an environment hospitable for the sperm, where they will thrive and move freely to the awaiting egg.
After ovulation, the amount of estrogen drops as the levels of progesterone rise, signaling your body to stop producing this fertile fluid. It normally becomes dry within just a day. To check your cervical fluid, use a tissue to wipe your vaginal area before you use the restroom. If you close the tissue and re-open it, you’ll be able to notice if it is sticky or stretchy; and of course if there is nothing there at all, you may be in your non-fertile time of the month.
Things that can inhibit fertile fluid production:
- Vaginal infections
- Medicines containing antihistamines (if it dries up mucous, it dries up cervical fluid)
- Caffeine consumption
- Being too thin – you may not be able to produce enough estrogen to either ovulate or produce enough cervical fluid.
- Clomid – while it’s used to increase the chances of ovulation, it can also dry up cervical fluid, actually making it harder to become pregnant, especially after a few cycles.
- Avoid over indulging in acidic foods. In our western diet, our body’s have become quite acidic and this bodily PH actually affects the sperm. When a womans vagina and mucous becomes too acidic, it can actually attack the sperm instead of feeding it. High acidic foods include coffee, pop or soda(depending on what part of the country you live in!), beer, artificial sweeteners, sugar (both white and brown), and white breads and pastas. Other acidic foods actually include eggs, yogurt, and even whole wheat breads. While these last 3 are truly healthy foods, it’s recommended to make sure you are eating a well rounded diet including many different types of fruits and vegetables to help your body balance it’s own PH to a neutral state.
To Increase the Quality of the Cervical Fluid
Since healthy cervical fluid helps to feed the sperm until it meets up with the egg for fertilization, we want to make sure we’re doing what we can to increase the quality of the mucous itself.
- Drink plenty of water. When we have a cold we’re told to drink fluids to clear up our sinus’s, would it not be the same for other bodily fluids? Staying hydrated is a great way to ensure the correct consistency and make it easier to judge when you are fertile.
- I’ve also heard it suggested to drink a cup of green tea each day. And while I don’t know the science behind it, it can’t hurt either. Plus it helps with overall fluid consumption.
- Taking Evening Primrose oil* from the start of your cycle until ovulation can also help increase the quantity and quality.
- Focus on eating foods that nourish your body; good fats, no sugar, plenty of produce and variety.
Checking your cervical fluid along with your basal body temperature gives you a great idea when ovulation happens. You’ll soon begin to see the patterns your body follows and increase your understanding of how your body works.
The fertility awareness portion of this series is underwritten by Fertility Flower*. Fertility Flower is a recently-launched website that helps couples grow their families or practice natural birth control using the sympto-thermal method.
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