Is Your Vaginal Discharge Stopping You Conceiving?

It's important to have healthy cervical mucus when you are trying to conceive. Vaginal discharge (cervical mucus) contains proteomic markers and plays an important role in increasing your chances of getting pregnant.  Proteomic markers (biomarkers or 'clues' of disease potential)  may be influenced by environmental factors such as toxins and pollutants that change discharge quality and make it an 'unfriendly environment' for sperm. Heavy metal testing and toxicity is a very complex issue. This can often increase the length of your preconception preparation for many months. This is why it is important to get tested.

The special kind of vaginal discharge called cervical mucus plays an important role in conception. Learning how to improve the quality and how to track your cervical mucus correctly for optimal intercourse timing, and getting to know the right kind of cervical mucus you need to conceive, will improve your chances of conceiving.

What is vaginal discharge?

Vaginal discharge is an umbrella term for secretions that come out of your vagina. Although most people avoid talking about it, this discharge plays an important role in keeping the vagina clean, preventing infection, flushing away old cells, and conceiving.

Cervical mucus is a type of vaginal discharge that appears throughout a woman’s menstrual cycle and is not the same thing as arousal fluid (produced when a woman is aroused). Arousal fluid does not have the same fertility enhancing properties as cervical mucus.

Although pregnancy, breastfeeding, and infections can also affect the consistency, color and odor of vaginal discharge, this post, will focus on normal variations in cervical mucus throughout the menstrual cycle.

Why is cervical mucus important for conception?

The vagina is acidic and hostile to sperm throughout most of the menstrual cycle, except for around ovulation. Cervical 'fertile' mucus appears in the days leading up to ovulation, and during this time and it nourishes sperm cells, helping them survive inside the reproductive tract for longer and travel to meet your egg!

The hormone estrogen rises during this time in order for ovulation to occur and is the main hormone that triggers the production of fertile cervical mucus. Rising levels of estrogen are also directly responsible for the transformation of cervical mucus into the fertile, sperm-friendly variety.

How does cervical mucus change throughout the menstrual cycle?

Women have very little cervical mucus after menstruation, but as you get closer to ovulation, the quantity, and quality of cervical mucus changes. It transforms from thick/opaque/tacky, to creamy, too slippery/clear/stretchy, or even watery.

The acidity of your cervical mucus is decreasing as you get closer to ovulation. Throughout most of your cycle, your cervical mucus is fairly acidic and hostile toward sperm but the acidity of cervical mucus decreases leading up to ovulation.

Combined, the high water content and low acidity, ensure a friendly environment for sperm survival.

The hormone estrogen is responsible for these changes. Estrogen levels rise in preparation for ovulation, causing cervical mucus to increase in water content and decrease in acidity. This is the most friendly environment for sperm survival.

How can cervical mucus help you get pregnant faster?

Cervical mucus is your body’s way of telling you ovulation is on its way.  Many women wait for their LH surge to have sex, but this strategy can cause you to start having sex too late in your cycle. If you see fertile cervical mucus, have sex - regardless of your ovulation test reading!

How can you check for fertile mucus?

You can check for fertile mucus by looking in your underwear or on the toilet paper after you wipe. For women who produce less cervical mucus, it may be difficult to examine without checking internally. To check internally, insert two (clean!) fingers into the vagina until you hit a little nose-like nub. This is your cervix. To “harvest” your mucus, stroke alongside the cervix with two fingers.

Once you collect your cervical mucus, pick it up in your fingers and examine it. Fertile cervical mucus is clear and slippery, and can usually be stretched wide between two fingers without breaking.

How do you know if you make enough cervical mucus?

Some women worry that if they don’t often see cervical mucus in their underwear and need to check internally, it means they don’t make enough cervical mucus.

Not having sufficient or poor quality 'fertile' cervical mucus can interfere with conception, because fertile cervical mucus changes the viscosity and pH of the cervix to support sperm survival and maturation. There are ways to improve mucus quality and increase the amount of cervical mucus produced naturally but you need to find out why it's problematic to start with.

How can I confirm I have environmental toxins?

One of the most reliable ways to determine whether environmental toxins may be causing your symptoms is to keep a diary of symptoms. Common symptoms of heavy environmental toxins include thin, watery or scanty cervical mucus; irregular ovulation, Premature Ovarian Failure, failed IVF cycles, poor egg or sperm quality, recurrent miscarriage and many more.

In addition, several tests are available to help confirm an environmental toxin diagnosis.  BUMP offers a full range of environmental toxin lab testing including heavy metal testing.

If a couple has been trying to conceive for more than one year without success despite there being no other reason for infertility and/or has had multiple miscarriages, my recommendation is for testing and if we do find heavy metals, I will recommend chelation therapy as a part of natural fertility treatment.

There are a few different ways of testing for heavy metals, and although you can buy inexpensive urine test kits online, these are only semi-accurate and can distort the result.

Other detective work may include:

  • Stool analysis – Which will confirm whether the gut is functioning optimally
  • Liver function testing - to determine ALT and the ability to remove heavy metals
  • Genetic testing – To help establish whether genetic defects (MTHFR) may be contributing

How can Narelle help?

Navigating unexplained infertility alone can be both isolating and confusing, particularly when undertaking IVF. Working with a Naturopath can provide you with the necessary support to pinpoint the issue and work on correcting it.

For more information on managing heavy metals or if you think you are experiencing symptoms of unexplained infertility decide to take action to work with us so we can tailor a treatment plan to your own unique needs and ensure the most successful outcome.

To book a FREE 10-minute fertility chat click here

** research references available on request.

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