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The White Stuff - our Amazing Cervicle Fluid

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Rebecca Scott

The White Stuff - our Amazing Cervicle Fluid

Posted by Rebecca Scott 57 Days Ago


The White Stuff – Our Amazing Cervical Fluid

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I have been surprised in the past at just how many women I work with who think they have thrush every month (without discussing it with their GP) or who are disgusted with their normal vaginal secretions.

Cervical mucous or fluid, discharge, our juiciness – whatever you want to call the white stuff you see in your pants is a crucial part of being a girl/woman. And is pretty amazing when you look into it. It keeps the vagina clean and moist and protects the uterus from infections.

Cervical fluid is produced by cells in the glands of the cervix (the passageway between your vagina and upper reproductive tract). It is produced because of stimulation by the hormone oestrogen and is a good sign of how healthy and fertile we are.  It is made up of approximately 90-98% water (so being well hydrated may help fertility and menopausal vaginal dryness) and gets its consistency from stringy molecules called mucins. These mucins entangle to build a network. Hormonal fluctuations change the ratio of mucins to water, thus altering the consistency of the cervical fluid.

A normal cervical fluid will vary in consistency and amount throughout your menstrual cycle and may be white, gloopy, creamy, or clear.  It is usually odourless or has a light musky smell that is unique to you.  Amounts will also increase when we are aroused and will fluctuate at other times of our lives such as during puberty, during and after pregnancy and during menopause when there may be very little. Cervical fluid can be seen on our underwear, where it will have dried slightly causing some alteration in its characteristics. It is not unusual for it to fade the colour of dark underwear.

In a woman who is having periods, there will be clear changes in the consistency of cervical fluid depending on where in the cycle she is.  Just after a period (at the beginning of the cycle), cervical fluid will be dry and sticky.

Around day 9/10 in a normal menstrual cycle, cervical fluid will gradually become more wet, creamy and white/yellowish (especially on your underwear) and increase in volume. As oestrogen peaks 1-2 days before ovulation (day 14 in a normal 28 day cycle), cervical fluid often resembles raw egg white that you can stretch for inches between your thumb and finger. The amount of cervical fluid is unique for everyone but it can be up to 10–20 times more than at any other point in the cycle.

Post ovulation, cervical fluid will become more dry and sticky again, or be absent.  Obviously if you have unprotected sex then the presence of semen will change how cervical fluid presents.  If you are on hormonal birth control then this will stop these patterns of cervical fluid and you are likely to be drier. Medications such as antihistamines can reduce the amount of cervical fluid you produce whereas decongestants can increase the amount of cervical fluid.

Amazingly, depending on where you are in your cycle, the changes that occur in your cervical fluid will make it difficult or easy for sperm to swim past your cervix and into your uterus.  Cervical fluid protects sperm from the acidic environment of your vagina and acts like a sperm filter, stopping any sperm that can’t swim properly or that have irregular shapes getting to the egg.

Sperm can start to swim through cervical fluid from about day 9 of a 28 day cycle.  It will then stay suspended in cervical fluid allowing it to survive there ready for an egg to be released, thereby extending our fertile window by up to 6 days longer. So, if you are trying to conceive you should be aiming to have intercourse every other day in the week up to when you think you ovulate so that good sperm is in situ and you do not miss the 12-24 hour window when an egg can be fertilised.

After ovulation, cervical fluid becomes a barrier to sperm reaching the upper reproductive tract.

All of this permeability is due to changes in the amount of mucin and water that the cervical fluid contains.  When you are fertile, the cervical fluid has more mucin that form channels allowing sperm through.  Under a microscope, fertile phase cervical fluid shows the strand-like mucins as branches and fern leaf-like structures hence the name a ‘fern test’. The results of the fern test help doctors to confirm ovulation and reveal beautiful patterns as these pictures show.

It is possible for women to be taught to keep track of their cervical fluid (as well as basal temperature) to determine when they are most fertile and time intercourse accordingly. However, it is still possible to have fertile looking cervical fluid yet not ovulate, as your body has prepared itself for ovulation that then did not take place.  This is most often the case when your menstrual cycles are irregular.

Knowing what is normal for you, both in terms of smell and texture throughout your cycle is a good way to keep an eye on whether you and your vagina are healthy. Significant or sudden changes in the smell, colour or consistency of your cervical fluid might mean something else is going on, like an infection that needs treatment.

A doctor should be consulted if the cervical fluid becomes consistently thicker, cottage cheese-like or textured. Or, if it becomes grey, green, yellow or brown and/or has a fishy or foul smell and/or causes itching and burning. It could be a sign of Thrush, Bacterial Vaginosis or other infections. Not all vulval itching is a sign of thrush and could be something like lichen sclerosus so do get any itching diagnosed if it persists. It is worth noting that during pregnancy, Thrush can be common but so is an increase in the amount of cervical fluid which forms a barrier between the foetus and the outside world.  So a change at this time should be discussed with your doctor to rule out an issue.

Our vaginas are like a unique ecosystem that can be affected by scented products, sexual activity, hormonal birth control or IUD’s, antibiotics, steroids, prolonged bleeding or spotting, smoking, diet and uncontrolled diabetes.

It is not necessary to douche or use any products in your vagina or on your vulva to clean away your cervical fluid or mask your smell.  Doing so may change the delicate pH balance of your vagina. Instead think of the beauty of Cervical Fluid under a microscope and just how essential it is for reproduction and keeping us healthy. I think it’s pretty amazing!

I would love to hear your thoughts and experiences regarding cervical fluid, or any issues you might have had such as vaginal dryness, Bacterial Vaginosis or Thrush.

I have been surprised in the past at just how many women I work with who think they have thrush every month (without discussing it with their GP) or who are disgusted with their normal vaginal secretions.

Cervical mucous or fluid, discharge, our juiciness – whatever you want to call the white stuff you see in your pants is a crucial part of being a girl/woman. And is pretty amazing when you look into it. It keeps the vagina clean and moist and protects the uterus from infections.

Cervical fluid is produced by cells in the glands of the cervix (the passageway between your vagina and upper reproductive tract). It is produced because of stimulation by the hormone oestrogen and is a good sign of how healthy and fertile we are.  It is made up of approximately 90-98% water (so being well hydrated may help fertility and menopausal vaginal dryness) and gets its consistency from stringy molecules called mucins. These mucins entangle to build a network. Hormonal fluctuations change the ratio of mucins to water, thus altering the consistency of the cervical fluid.

A normal cervical fluid will vary in consistency and amount throughout your menstrual cycle and may be white, gloopy, creamy, or clear.  It is usually odourless or has a light musky smell that is unique to you.  Amounts will also increase when we are aroused and will fluctuate at other times of our lives such as during puberty, during and after pregnancy and during menopause when there may be very little. Cervical fluid can be seen on our underwear, where it will have dried slightly causing some alteration in its characteristics. It is not unusual for it to fade the colour of dark underwear.

In a woman who is having periods, there will be clear changes in the consistency of cervical fluid depending on where in the cycle she is.  Just after a period (at the beginning of the cycle), cervical fluid will be dry and sticky.

Around day 9/10 in a normal menstrual cycle, cervical fluid will gradually become more wet, creamy and white/yellowish (especially on your underwear) and increase in volume. As oestrogen peaks 1-2 days before ovulation (day 14 in a normal 28 day cycle), cervical fluid often resembles raw egg white that you can stretch for inches between your thumb and finger. The amount of cervical fluid is unique for everyone but it can be up to 10–20 times more than at any other point in the cycle.

Post ovulation, cervical fluid will become more dry and sticky again, or be absent.  Obviously if you have unprotected sex then the presence of semen will change how cervical fluid presents.  If you are on hormonal birth control then this will stop these patterns of cervical fluid and you are likely to be drier. Medications such as antihistamines can reduce the amount of cervical fluid you produce whereas decongestants can increase the amount of cervical fluid.

Amazingly, depending on where you are in your cycle, the changes that occur in your cervical fluid will make it difficult or easy for sperm to swim past your cervix and into your uterus.  Cervical fluid protects sperm from the acidic environment of your vagina and acts like a sperm filter, stopping any sperm that can’t swim properly or that have irregular shapes getting to the egg.

Sperm can start to swim through cervical fluid from about day 9 of a 28 day cycle.  It will then stay suspended in cervical fluid allowing it to survive there ready for an egg to be released, thereby extending our fertile window by up to 6 days longer. So, if you are trying to conceive you should be aiming to have intercourse every other day in the week up to when you think you ovulate so that good sperm is in situ and you do not miss the 12-24 hour window when an egg can be fertilised.

After ovulation, cervical fluid becomes a barrier to sperm reaching the upper reproductive tract.

All of this permeability is due to changes in the amount of mucin and water that the cervical fluid contains.  When you are fertile, the cervical fluid has more mucin that form channels allowing sperm through.  Under a microscope, fertile phase cervical fluid shows the strand-like mucins as branches and fern leaf-like structures hence the name a ‘fern test’. The results of the fern test help doctors to confirm ovulation and reveal beautiful patterns as these pictures show.

It is possible for women to be taught to keep track of their cervical fluid (as well as basal temperature) to determine when they are most fertile and time intercourse accordingly. However, it is still possible to have fertile looking cervical fluid yet not ovulate, as your body has prepared itself for ovulation that then did not take place.  This is most often the case when your menstrual cycles are irregular.

Knowing what is normal for you, both in terms of smell and texture throughout your cycle is a good way to keep an eye on whether you and your vagina are healthy. Significant or sudden changes in the smell, colour or consistency of your cervical fluid might mean something else is going on, like an infection that needs treatment.

A doctor should be consulted if the cervical fluid becomes consistently thicker, cottage cheese-like or textured. Or, if it becomes grey, green, yellow or brown and/or has a fishy or foul smell and/or causes itching and burning. It could be a sign of Thrush, Bacterial Vaginosis or other infections. Not all vulval itching is a sign of thrush and could be something like lichen sclerosus so do get any itching diagnosed if it persists. It is worth noting that during pregnancy, Thrush can be common but so is an increase in the amount of cervical fluid which forms a barrier between the foetus and the outside world.  So a change at this time should be discussed with your doctor to rule out an issue.

Our vaginas are like a unique ecosystem that can be affected by scented products, sexual activity, hormonal birth control or IUD’s, antibiotics, steroids, prolonged bleeding or spotting, smoking, diet and uncontrolled diabetes.

It is not necessary to douche or use any products in your vagina or on your vulva to clean away your cervical fluid or mask your smell.  Doing so may change the delicate pH balance of your vagina. Instead think of the beauty of Cervical Fluid under a microscope and just how essential it is for reproduction and keeping us healthy. I think it’s pretty amazing!

I would love to hear your thoughts and experiences regarding cervical fluid, or any issues you might have had such as vaginal dryness, Bacterial Vaginosis or Thrush.

Becca is a homeopath and reflexologist specialist in gynaecological health available at www.healing-space.co.uk and www.formulahealth.co.uk

This article first appeared in This is Me! Wellwoman Network Online Magazine, July 2021

Rebecca Scott

Article written by Rebecca Scott - Reading

I'm Becca Scott of Healing Space.

I have been a Homeopath for 12 years and a Reflexologist for 20 years.

I specialise in Women's Health. Particularly gynecological issues such as period pain and flooding, PMS, PCOS, Endometriosis, Lichen Sclerosus, Vulvodynia, Vaginismus, VIN, birth trauma and their effect on Fertility issues as... [read more]

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Reflexology

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