Cervical mucus plays an important role in enabling you to get pregnant. The most important role that it plays is that it facilitates conception by allowing fertilization to occur at a time distant from ovulation. The role of the cervical mucus is to nourish, protect, and speed the sperm on its way up through the uterus and into the Fallopian tubes so that it can fertilize the egg and help you in getting pregnant.
A woman’s cervical mucus is different throughout her menstrual cycle and these changes in cervical mucus reflect her stage in the cycle. After menstruation, as your cycle progresses, your cervical mucus increases in volume and changes texture. The greater volume and changes in texture reflect your body’s rising levels of estrogen. You are considered most fertile when the mucus becomes clear, slippery, and stretchy. At this stage the cervical mucus can be compared to raw egg whites.
Cervical Mucus – Healthy Reservoir for Sperm
The vaginal environment is biologically a very hostile place for the sperm. The acidity in the vagina rapidly immobilizes sperm and makes them dysfunctional. The first level of protection that the sperm gets is by the man’s coagulum. After ejaculation, sperm are protected by the coagulum formed from a man’s semen. But this is a very short period of time. During this time, sperm, wrapped in coagulum, are transferred to the cervical mucus which protects the sperm from the acidity of the vagina. Sperm that fails to enter the cervical mucus in this short period of time become non functional. Although, women often worry about semen falling out of their vagina after intercourse, all useful sperm is usually taken up in the cervical mucus within this short span of time after intercourse.
In the middle of your cycle, your cervical mucus provides a healthy reservoir for sperm. Sperm, unlike ova, can survive for a number of days within crypts of your cervix.
During most of the cycle the cervical mucus is like a thick plug for your uterus that prevents sperm from entering it. However, due to hormonal changes in your body during your menstrual cycle preceding the time of ovulation, the cervical mucus increases in volume and becomes thinner and more stretchy than usual. At this time, it allows free entry of sperm into the uterus and assists pregnancy.
Cervical Mucus – Mobilizing Medium for Sperm
When ovulation occurs, a single, mature egg or ovum is released into the uterus from a follicle. This egg is fertilizable for only about 12 hours after which it will begin to disintegrate, if not fertilized. During ovulation the cervical mucus becomes thinnest, clearest and most abundant and comes to your aid. Sperm that have colonized in your cervical mucus through prior intercourse are now free in the thinner mucus to leave the cervix at any time and travel up into the uterus and through the tubes to find an egg. For most women cervical mucus functions in this way for at least two days prior to ovulation. In some women cervical mucus enables fertilization to occur up to a week before ovulation and pregnancy to still be able to take place.
Cervical Mucus – Barrier to Abnormal Sperm
The cervical mucus also acts as a barrier to abnormal sperm. An abnormally shaped sperm is much less likely to to be able to travel to the egg as quickly and easily as normal shaped sperm and actually can get slowed down in the cervical mucus. This natural selection process that takes place in the cervical mucus is effective in facilitating pregnancy in women.