#2 Body literacy: Ovulation and cervical mucus
Recognising the signs and symptoms of ovulation
Before or after ovulation, hormonal shifts can affect your whole body. Ovulation signs are not difficult to notice once you know what to look for! Being in tune with these changes can allow you to manage fertility. Cervical mucus (CM) changes is just one of many signs of fertility.
The ‘fertile window’ can be days long because of CM. For most of the cycle the CM is acid, killing sperm, however, several days prior to ovulation tiny crypts in and around our cervix produce cervical fluid which is alkaline. This alkalinity allows sperm to live and be preserved until ovulation, often for up to 5-6 days, as well as assisting in the journey to meet up with the egg.
CM self- examination throughout the cycle is an important way to keep tabs on your reproductive health. The following 4 phases can assist your tracking!
Dry phase….. Days 1-4 | Little to no CM, a non-fertile phase
Sticky phase….. Days 4-6 | White or cloudy and forms small sticky globs, a non-fertile phase
Creamy phase…. Days 7-9 | Creamy, cloudy, abundant and thick, a semi-fertile phase
Egg white phase…. Days 10-14 | Resembling raw egg whites, stretchy and slippery, super abundant, fertile phase
*If your egg was fertilized – Some women notice a white or clear creamy mucus after implantation. Mucus is necessary in early pregnancy because it helps block up the entrance to the cervix in order to prevent bacteria from entering.
Cervical mucus changes can be tracked using a fertility microscope too and allows you to detect approaching fertility. Fertility microscopes are widely available, easy to use and allow a saliva droplet to reflect CM changes. The focus here is on the patterns created with the saliva and CM. Ferning of these two bodily fluids indicates the arrival of the ‘fertile window’.
Ferning occurs because of increased levels of estrogen during the fertile phase with salt crystals appearing in the saliva and CM. When viewed under a microscope these crystals resemble ferns.
How to Increase cervical mucus
· Stay hydrated, CM is 90% water
· Consume grapefruit and other citrus fruits to increase alkalinity
· Eat raw garlic
· Be cautious with use of antihistamines and decongestants as they can dry up CM
· Cough syrup can help thin CM due to the active ingredient, guaifenesin, and should only be used in the days leading up to ovulation.
· Evening Primrose Oil, containing the fatty acid Gamma Linolenic Acid which is converted into prostaglandins, may enhance production of CM.
· L-Arginine may improve CM by increasing production of nitric oxide. NO dilates blood vessels and helps to increase blood flow to the uterus and ovaries.
· Supplementing with ‘Pre-seed’ lubricant can assist as its structure and composition resemble CM.