Yep, we are going there - cervical mucus
By Chloe Jordon
Cervical mucus (aka vaginal discharge) is produced in the cervix to provide a protective barrier to the uterus from foreign particles, such as bacteria, getting in and causing harm. As well as the cervix, mucus also protects and lubricates other areas in the body such as our airways, eyes, and gut. The cool thing about cervical mucus is that depending on the hormones at play it can also determine whether or not sperm will make it to the next level of their baby-making journey.
There are three types of cervical mucus that you might find in your undies depending on which part of your menstruation cycle you are at. A few days after your period, cervical mucus is usually creamy and may be watery or thin. Some even describe it smooth like hand lotion, but we’ll leave that up to your interpretation. In the few days up to and including ovulation mucus becomes similar to an egg white in that it’s partly clear and stretchy. A hormone called oestrogen that causes the egg to be released in ovulation also makes the mucus wet and slippery. This makes the mucus receptive to sperm and actually gives sperm a helping hand in reaching the egg by providing protection and nourishment on their journey. Following ovulation and before your next period, mucus production is significantly reduced and becomes sticky and rubbery but not wet. Increased progesterone during this phase results in a gummy mucus that blocks sperm as they have no use in the uterus due to there being no egg to fertilise.
Cervical mucus is not just part of the menstruation cycle. During pregnancy, cervical mucus production is amped up to form a mucus plug to strengthen the defence against unwanted bacteria and pathogens entering the uterus and harming the foetus. The presence of mucus also provides light protection against STI’s all year round.
Remember everyone is on different menstruation journeys so don’t fret if your cervical mucus is a little different. The only time to get it checked out by a doctor is if your cervical fluid contains blood or seems different than the usual. Any change to a green or yellow colour, foul or fishy smell or chunky or foamy texture may indicate an infection and needs to be checked out.
Regularly checking your cervical mucus is a great habit to get into to make sure your vagina is happy. It is important to mention that checking your mucus after sexual activity is not always the most accurate as it may be mixed in with semen or lubrication (natural or otherwise). Some people have got their mucus identification so down pat that they use it as part of a fertility awareness method of contraception. If you are considering this be sure to check in with your doctor to make sure that you are going about it in the best and safest way.
Cervical mucus has a pretty important role during the reproductive years in keeping our uteruses the squeaky clean baby makers they are. Without mucus there would be no gate on our cervix and the uterus would become a free-for-all for bacteria, pathogens and sperm alike.