Welcome to Fertility Fridays! In the world of pregnancy and birth, it is all-too-easy to forget the conception process can be challenging, frustrating and isolating for many. Each Friday we will feature voices of amazing women who are either they themselves on the fertility journey or are experts in the field. We hope to provide a safe place to explore the conception process, find wisdom to boost chances of conceiving and connect with other women on their own journeys.
- - -
Like most women, at some point in your life you have probably experienced strange and interesting substances coming forth from your lady-parts. Am I right? Like the majority of the female populous, you will continue to experience this for most, if not all, of your life. Yet, by a certain age you have learned to just ignore it, pretend it isn’t there. Why? We have been taught to ignore or even feel embarrassed about this fluid. But did you know that this substance, or fluid, is some of the coolest stuff on the planet?! And if you are trying to get pregnant it is absolutely crucial you begin paying attention to it!
The “D” Word
In the words of Toni Weschler, “…I would suggest you never again use the “d-word” to describe your healthy normal cervical fluid. After all, we don’t refer to a man’s healthy semen as “discharge”!
I love this quote because it is so true. Cervical fluid is the female equivalent to male semen. Cervical fluid is a normal substance produced by the cervix. It’s purpose: To facilitate sperm’s journey to the egg. It creates a nice alkaline slippery uterus-highway in the acidic vagina, to help the sperm reach the egg. It also provides sperm with nutrients to stay alive long enough to make it to baby land.
I’ll never forget the time I made my mother bring me to the gynecologist at 14 years old, because I was convinced I had a yeast infection. The awkward appointment was worth it, because I was relieved to learn what I thought was an infection, was actually my normal healthy cervical fluid.
So can we ditch the “d” word, please? Discharge is what infections make. Normal healthy bodies produce normal healthy cervical fluid. And sometimes lots of it.
Cervical Fluid and Fertility
You might be wondering why should you pay attention to your cervical fluid. What’s so great about it anyways?
Well if you are wanting to get pregnant, cervical fluid is your new best friend.
Throughout your cycle your cervical fluid will actually change depending on how close you are to ovulation. As estrogen surges, and you near ovulation, your cervical fluid will begin to increase in water content. A typical pattern goes as such:
Menstruation: Bleeding for around 3 to 7 days. This varies from woman to woman. During this time there may or may not be cervical fluid present.
None/Dry: After your period ends most women have a few days where there’s no cervical fluid.
Sticky: Around day 7 or so, your cervix will start producing a sticky or pasty kind of cervical fluid. It may look like rubber cement, or be slightly springy, but it’s mostly a solid kind of substance. It should roll into a ball between your fingers. This isn’t the most efficient fluid for sperm to make it to the egg, but they can live in it for a few days if they’re troopers.
Creamy: As your cycle progresses, your estrogen level is rising every day. The increase of estrogen means the water content of your cervical fluid will increase. This fluid can look like yogurt, lotion, heavy cream, or milk. It still has some substance to it, but is more watery than the sticky fluid.
Egg white: (A.K.A. Get in bed now if you want to make a baby!) Eggwhite cervical fluid is called that because it resembles raw eggwhite. It’s clear, and slippery, and can usually stretch an inch or more between a finger and thumb. This special fluid can keep sperm alive for up to 5 days inside your body. You are usually a day or two away from ovulating when you experience this fluid.
Watery: Sometimes the water content of a woman’s cervical fluid will be so high that the eggwhite cervical fluid is more like water, it’s clear, slippery, and doesn’t hold its shape at all. You will know it’s there by the very wet sensation in your vagina. You may even feel like you’ve started your period.
And that takes us up to ovulation! Some women will experience cervical fluid all throughout their cycle, some not so much. You might follow this pattern, or you might not. We are all different!
Trying to conceive?
If you are trying to conceive, have sex when you are producing the super fertile quality cervical fluids such as egg whites or watery gushes. If you don’t produce a lot of cervical fluid, it’s important to use a product that mimics your body’s natural cervical fluid. Otherwise the sperm don’t stand much chance making it to the egg. We want to give those little dudes a helping hand, after all! My favorites are inserting raw eggwhites, or organic coocnut oil into the vagina before sex. And if you want to get super fancy you can try a product like this: http://www.preseed.com/
And there you have it! The low down on cervical fluid. I bet you will start paying attention to your underwear a little more intently now, huh?
Rachel Snow is a Women’s Holistic Health Practitioner in Boulder, Colorado.
To learn more visit www.boulderfertility.com