The human body is an amazing thing, and unless you spent four years studying biology then chances are you might not be on top of what is happening within you right now. Without proper sex ed in many places, it can be difficult to get a grasp on a lot of stuff, so we grow up with very little knowledge about our bodies. One of the least appreciated things in the body is cervical mucus.
Cervical mucus is quite literally, fantastic. It does so many jobs, like a handyman for your downstairs lady area. Mucus is one of the three main components in the Fertility Awareness Method, and while it has a load of amazing properties, it's usually viewed upon with disgust, treated as though the vagina has the audacity to sneeze into your underwear.
Like we said before, cervical mucus is brilliant and really, really useful. It can be the first step in letting you know if something is wrong, like an STD or even a yeast infection. It's actually the mucus that can keep sperm alive for up to five days. This means a woman could have sex on Sunday, but conceive on Thursday when the egg is released. Mind. Blown.
Warning: You can't see any changes in mucus if you happen to be on any type of hormonal birth control, like the pill or the bar, but if you ever go off them, then this is pretty cool stuff to know.
Have you ever wondered why your lovely dark underwear, usually your really expensive black lacy numbers, end up stained, almost as if they were bleached? (We’re looking at you, white patches on black underwear!) Well, that's the result of, what I like to call, the venomous vagina!
Most of the time, thanks to all of the good bacteria growing inside, the vagina is coated in a nice layer of lactic acid. DON'T PANIC! Don't worry you're not going to dissolve from the inside out (I don't think so anyway...)
It's the vaginal equivalent of one of those fancy self-cleaning ovens. Of all of the parts of your body that you want to ensure is sanitary, the vagina is one of them. Just ask anyone who's ever suffered a UTI or a kidney infection. Eep. Not only does the acid helps keep the vagina clean, it also kills the sperm, like water with the witch in the Wizard of Oz.
E is for Excellent
E-type mucus is practically the opposite of the aforementioned G type mucus. For one thing, you can actually see it! I mean with enough effort you could see G mucus, but that would involve a flashlight, paper clips, and an extremely thin periscope. Or some remarkable MacGuyver-like skills.
During the fertile part of your cycle, the E mucus counteracts the vaginal acid and helps balance the PH level out, making the journey just that little bit less treacherous for the tiny tadpoles.
This type of mucus actually helps keep sperm alive for up to four or five days. Due to the fact that the fertility window is very slim, this is extremely useful if attempting to conceive.
You could say that the estrogenic mucus is a lifesaver, well, for the man-gravy at least. Not only does the mucus work as a protective barrier between the sperm and the acidic typhoon inside your vaginal canal, but it extends its life in other ways. The mucus acts like a jelly (or jello, depending on whatever consistency makes you feel better at night) providing necessary nutrients by feeding the sperm. Thus ensuring that it has an extended lifespan and yet again helping your chances of conception.
Plus the mucus acts as a conduit for the sperm, aiding in their tumultuous journey towards the egg.
The mucus is produced in the cervix and has nowhere to go but down, this means you can observe it. This is especially handy for use in fertility awareness methods, the color and texture of the mucus will help you be able to determine whereabouts you are in your cycle. (In conjunction with other FAM methods.)
Plug it Up
What can we say about the mucus plug? It does exactly what it says on the tin. Okay so during the non-fertile part of your cycle the opening in the cervix shrinks and changes positions. In addition to this a mucus plug, made from G mucus, blocks the opening of the cervix to stop sperm getting through. The mucus plug is like a very tight net, like mesh, and it has a high acidity level itself, which also helps destroy the sperm up there too. During pregnancy the mucus plug gets even thicker and stronger, keeping everything where it should be until the baby is due.
Effectively the vagina is like the Rambo of the vulva, killing sperm for the majority of your cycle, blocking them from the uterus and zapping them like those blue fly lights that electrocute anything that buzzes by.
The Cervical Mucus Cycle
Effectively, if you can see any kind of mucus in your undercarriage then congratulations, you are most probably fertile. However, it is the really slippery, sort of viscose type that means that your oven is definitely pre-heated and ready for a bun or two. This can be clarified if you notice the days before and after that you have dry or sticky mucus.
After menstruation, the mucus has its own cycle and it tends to fall into its own pattern, for the most part, it will go something like this.
When you're charting, or at least trying to chart your cervical mucus cycle, don't be alarmed if you're having trouble figuring it out. It's not exactly tea leaves here, and there is every possibility that you might be having split peaks, which is the result of low estrogen levels, which can make ovulation tricky.
If you are checking out your magical lady ectoplasm and you notice any strong, unusual odors, textures, or colors (like yellow) then go see your healthcare professional, just to make sure that you are okay and free from infection.
Women Should Know Their Own Bodies
Cervical mucus still manages to be one of those taboo topics that no-one wants to talk about, with it often being portrayed as unclean. Not only that, but doctors don't seem to have a great knowledge of something that is so very important.
We really need to give this stigma a good boot up the backside. As women, we deserve to know and understand how our bodies work, especially with regards to our (often overlooked) reproductive system. If you want to more about your lady parts, you can read more about that here!
So when it comes to cervical mucus, what are your thoughts? Have you ever checked yours? Do you use it as part of your birth control plan? Let us know in the comments down below.