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Cervical mucus is very important for conception. It is sometimes referred to as egg white cervical mucus. Some birth controls prevent pregnancy by drying up cervical mucus.
What is Cervical Mucus and Its Role in Getting Pregnant?
Cervical mucus is produced in the cervix which is present at the opening of the womb. It changes over the course of the cycle because of hormones.
So can you get pregnant without cervical mucus? No, because cervical mucus creates the ideal environment for the semen to thrive and move freely and is very essential in achieving pregnancy. Right before ovulation starts, there will be an increase in the cervical fluids and they, in their consistency, become like raw egg whites. When the cervical mucus is in this form, they help in nourishing the sperm cells and increase their capability to move through the cervical canal.
This process can be impeded if there is any problem with the cervical mucus and will cause problems in getting pregnant.
It is estimated that cervical mucus hostility is the reason for 3-8 per cent of the infertility cases in females.
What is Cervical Mucus Hostility?
There are cases when the cervical mucus in a woman will start attacking and killing the sperm before it reaches the egg. This condition is called cervical hostility.
Any problems with a woman’s cervical mucus might interfere with the chances of getting pregnant. If the case is mild, then the time to get pregnant will increase, and it may not cause infertility. Serious problems with cervical mucus will cause infertility and might require treatments and hormonal support. When these problems become the reason, it is referred to as hostile cervical mucus. Hostile cervical mucus can also be referred to problems with vaginal secretions that are highly acidic, severe vaginal dryness, or even to other immunological problems.
What Causes Cervical Mucus Hostility?
The term cervical mucus hostility can refer to many problems relates to the cervical fluids. The most common reasons are:
1. Thick, Sticky, or Dry Mucus
These conditions mostly occur due to an imbalance in the hormones and frequently with problems in ovulation. When the consistency of the cervical mucus is thick, the motility of the sperm will interfere. Side effects of some medications could be a reason for this condition.
2. Acidic Mucus
A highly acidic mucus is hostile to the sperm. A reason for this condition is hormonal irregularities which can interfere with the natural pH balance. Yeast or bacterial infection may also result in high acidity.
3. Inflammatory Cells
These cells develop as a response to infections. When these cells are produced in the cervix or vagina, they start targeting the sperm and actively kill them.
4. Anti-Sperm Antibodies
These antibodies are defensive proteins. They are generated by the immune system of the body in response to an infection in the past where sperm was either involved or was actively present. While this condition is less common, they will still attack the sperm and kill them.
How Does Cervical Mucus Hostility Affect Your Fertility?
1. Medication Side Effects
The quality of the cervical mucus can decrease due to some medications. They might also dry up the mucus. Drugs taken for a short period of time usually do not cause any problems.
This medication is usually meant to help with pregnancy, but in some cases, it could also cause problems. Not every woman taking this drug experiences problem with the quality of cervical mucus. When higher doses of Clomid are taken, it increases the chances of having problems. It is best to mention to the doctor if lack of fertile cervical mucus or vaginal dryness is noticed when taking Clomid. To help with this side effect, an estrogen suppository may be prescribed by the doctor. If Clomid is found to be unsuccessful and does not help in pregnancy or the side effects are the problem, then the doctor might prescribe gonadotropin injectables. Though they have other side effects and risks, they will not dry up the cervical mucus.
Lesser days of cervical mucus are seen as a woman gets older. Fertility decreases with age, and one way of the fertility getting affected is because of the changes in the quantity and quality of the mucus. During the 20s, quality cervical mucus can be seen for around five days. But during the 30s and 40s, cervical mucus can be seen for one or even two days. Sometimes, they may never become raw egg whites and might always remain at the watery stage. Can you get pregnant without egg white cervical mucus? The answer is no because they are needed for the sperm to swim and survive from the cervix to the uterus and finally into the fallopian tubes. The consistency changes from person to person, and there is no accurate way of predicting the number of days of quality mucus of a woman only based on her age.
When the number of days of high-quality mucus is higher, the chances of getting pregnant are better. Therefore, even when there are only one or two days of fertile cervical mucus, it is still possible to get pregnant.
Valuable cervical mucus that is needed for getting pregnant is washed away during vaginal douching. Good bacteria are also washed away which might lead to vaginal infection. An unpleasant vaginal odour could be a sign of a vaginal infection. Many medications for yeast infection might cause discomfort and irritation. Bacterial infections could be a reason for strong vaginal odours and treating it is important for fertility and overall health.
5. Being Underweight
The increase of cervical mucus that precedes ovulation is caused by the hormone estrogen. Exercising regularly will help if you are underweight, or you may have low estrogen levels if you are a professional athlete. This will help in the increase of more fertile cervical mucus and will also help with ovulation problems.
6. Hormonal Imbalance
Hormonal imbalance could be a reason for the lack of production of the cervical mucus. There is a reduction in fertile cervical mucus if ovulation does not take place properly. It is also possible not to be ovulating at all but have an excess amount of fertile cervical mucus. It depends on the causes of ovulation problems.
How to Treat Cervical Mucus Hostility to Get Pregnant?
Treatment for cervical mucus hostility can be based on the contributing factors and causes. They may be:
- Antifungal or antibiotics can be used for the treatment of any cervical or vaginal infection.
- Mucus hostility may be caused due to higher doses of Clomid (clomiphene). So changing or lowering the treatment can be done.
- The quality and production of cervical mucus can be improved by a short-term prescription of ethinyl estradiol which a synthetic estrogen.
- Though improvement of fertility is questionable, taking a cough remedy which has guaifenesin is known to lessen the thickness of cervical mucus.
- If there are no signs of anti-sperm antibodies and other infections, fertility-friendly lubricants can be used.
- Bypassing of the cervix can be done with intrauterine insemination.
If infertility persists and all the treatment efforts are unsuccessful then in vitro fertilization can be explored.
Though it is common among infertile women, cervical mucus hostility is mostly one of the last things that are tested for an infertile woman. If your doctor is unable to find any other causes for your inability to get pregnant, you should consider checking for this problem.