Author: Dr. Maryam Mahanian, DTCM, RAc
Audio Broadcast of the article is available below:
You can increase cervical mucus (fluid) for greater conception
In my opinion, cervical mucus (also referred to as cervical fluid) is the best sign of ovulation! However, many of you trying to conceive may not know what to look for (what exactly does it look like?). You also may not know that there are things you can do if you think your cervical mucus just isn’t enough or if you have infertile cervical mucus.
What Cervical Mucus is and Why It’s An Important Fertile Sign
Cervical mucus is one of three primary fertility signs, the other two being your basal body temperature and your cervical position. Fertility signs indicate when you’re most fertile. In my opinion, of these three signs, cervical mucus is the most accurate and most important when it comes to knowing when your fertile window occurs.
Basal body temperature shows when you have already ovulated but doesn’t show you when you’re about to ovulate which is key to know when to have intercourse. Cervical position can be difficult to figure out for a lot of people.
Cervical mucus is more obvious and easy to understand according to past feedback from my fertility patients over the years.
Women are fertile around ovulation so they produce cervical mucus only around this time. Cervical mucus is what is needed to sustain sperm and a medium for the sperm to travel through to reach the egg. It’s only around ovulation that you would need sperm to survive and that’s why fertile cervical mucus is only produced at ovulation.
Sperm live longer in fertile cervical mucus than in regular cervical mucus. Sperm can even last for up to 5 days in fertile cervical mucus because it has nutrients for the sperm and little channels (or striations) for the sperm to live in. When the sperm are alive and there’s a reservoir of sperm waiting for the egg to be released, there’s a greater chance of conceiving and you don’t have to be so precise with timing intercourse. The mucus also prepares the sperm to fertilize the egg…in other words it capacitates the sperm. The fertile cervical mucus also helps filter out bacteria and prevents bacteria from entering the uterus.
After ovulation happens, progesterone makes the mucus quite thick to prevent the sperm from being able to get into the uterus.
In Chinese medicine, this drying up of cervical mucus at the end of ovulation marks the end of the yin phase (estrogen phase) and the beginning of the yang phase (progesterone phase). The rise in temperature indicates the successful switch from yin to yang.
The Typical Pattern Of Cervical Mucus
Most women are pretty consistent from month to month with a distinct pattern of cervical mucus. The pattern is important as to how many days of fertile cervical mucus you have and which days to target having intercourse.
Cervical Mucus can look like a yeast infection but it‘s not the same thing. If you’re unclear about what CM is, it actually could be possible to confuse it with a recurring yeast infection.
Right after your menstrual period, it’s typically dry with maybe just a touch of moisture. Your finger may have slight dampness on it that would evaporate rather quickly. This is what the vagina normally feels like.
After a few days of this dryness, you’ll be approaching ovulation and estrogen is rising so you will start to notice cervical mucus. Each woman is different with which day this will start to occur. For some it may occur early on around day 6 and for others as late as day 11. This cervical mucus is not really wet yet…it’s described as “sticky”, “rubbery” or “springy”.
The next type of cervical mucus is a wetter type that is described as “creamy” or like lotion. It may feel cold at the vaginal opening, it will stretch but will break. This type of cervical mucus is still not the fertile type quite yet.
The final and most fertile type of cervical mucus is easy to identify because it resembles raw egg white. We call this Egg White Cervical Mucus (EWCM). It’s stretchy, clear and lubricative. Sometimes it could be streaked – yellow, pink or red tinged (usually indicating mid cycle ovulation bleeding). When you stretch it, it won’t break. It may be so slippery that you actually can’t see anything.. You’ll just be able to feel it or see it on your underwear due to its high water content.
Keep in mind here that it’s more important to feel the wetness than to actually see it.
I should point out that the quality of EWCM is also more important than quantity. Not all women get excessive amounts of cervical mucus and that’s not necessarily a sign of decreased fertility so don’t panic.
So when you see the EWCM, it’s absolutely your most fertile time! Sperm are actually fed by nutrients in this type of cervical mucus and it contains little channels that help sperm swim up to meet the egg. This is in contrast to the sticky cervical mucus present during other parts of your cycle, which don’t have channels, and instead actually has criss-cross fibers that trap the sperm to prevent them from going anywhere too quickly.
The fertile cervical mucus will suddenly dry up within a day because of the sudden drop in estrogen and progesterone taking over after ovulation. This dry cervical mucus is the best way to know that estrogen has plummeted and progesterone has taken over.
Fertile cervical mucus lasts 3 days on average. Young women can have it last for up to 5 days and older women may only notice it for about 2 days..or even just one. Your peak fertility is the last day of fertile cervical mucus.
What does Chinese medicine say about Cervical mucus?
Chinese medicine views cervical mucus as a Yin substance. Yin is the fluids of the body so a yin deficiency indicates dryness of the fluids.
A healthy state of yin indicates healthy egg quality and a thick uterine lining.
Overly thick cervical mucus can indicate having too much heat in the body because of stuck Qi (energy).
Yin deficiency is so common and so treatable by Chinese medicine. If you think that there room for improvement with the quality or quantity of your cervical mucus and you’re trying to conceive, definitely consider seeing a trained Doctor of Chinese medicine. Even better is one who specializes in women’s health.
Things You Can Do To Improve The Quality And Quantity Of Your Cervical Mucus
Drink more water & electrolytes – especially drink plenty of water during phase 2 and 3 of your cycle (pre-ovulation (follicular) phase and ovulation phase). Women with too thick cm may just simply be dehydrated. The same goes for men with low semen volume.
If your cervical mucus is too acidic, avoid coffee, red meat and alcohol. Eat more alkaline foods such as vegetables and whole grains.
If your cervical mucus is too thick, you can take an over the counter decongestant guaifenesin (also called Mucinex) to thin it out
Try a baking soda douche if your cervical mucus is too acidic. This would be the only time it’s recommended to douche. I don’t typically recommend my patients to do douches.
Avoid scented tampons and vaginal douches as they interfere with the production of cervical mucus.
Don’t burn the candle at both ends because this consumes the yin of the body. , get plenty of rest! Try to get your 8 hours of sleep every night.
Don’t over exercise but also don’t lead a sedentary lifestyle. Make sure to move your body every day but don’t overexert yourself.
Omega essential fatty acids or evening primrose oil taken daily are very helpful
Chinese herbs are fantastic to increase cervical mucus when prescribed by a qualified practitioner. Many Chinese herbs can support the health of our mucus glands, including how they function. Many of those same herbs also support hormonal balance, which is necessary for appropriate cervical fluid changes. In Chinese medical terms, these herbs are blood and yin tonics. These are best taken during the follicular phase of your cycle (the first half of your cycle).
A Chinese herbal formula that I love for improving the quality and quantity of cervical mucus is called Liu Wei Di Huang Wan (translated as the six ingredient pill with rehmannia). This formula is often modified & customized so that it fits the individual’s particular pattern. This is what makes chinese herbal medicine so effective. This was formulated hundreds of years ago to build yin and practitioners use it just after the menstrual period to build blood and yin. I typically add some blood tonics such as dang gui and bai shao to the main formula.
Acupuncture can help increase cervical mucus. Many of my patients report an increase in their cervical mucus after they start regular acupuncture treatments.
Self acupressure works in the same way as acupuncture except you can do it in the comfort of your own home. It can increase the blood and yin of the body, regulate your hormones and aid in ovulation. It stimulates blood flow to the reproductive organs.
Drink grapefruit juice or pineapple juice as it can increase the prostaglandins and pH of cervical mucus making it more alkaline and better environment for the sperm.
Carrots are rich in beta carotene which creates vitamin A. Vitamin A improves the volume and quality of cervical mucus.
Simply eat a healthy clean diet with lots of veggies.
Limit dairy intake
This one goes without saying…don’t smoke cigarettes
Keep in mind that certain medications can negatively impact and dry cervical mucus so consider removing these from your regimen. These include antihistamines, diuretics, high dose vitamin C and decongestants. Clomid can also dry out cervical mucus. Make sure to consult with your health care provider before making any changes to any medications you’re currently taking.
Wishing you the best of luck in your fertility journey ahead!