Most women have seen vaginal discharge continually for a major part of their lives. It is not uncommon to ignore it and move on since we know it’s normal. But what if the discharge we see e.g. cervical mucus, could mean more than we think?
First of all, vaginal discharge is a general name for any fluid that comes out of the vagina. That includes blood or other colours of fluid that could indicate the presence of a sexually transmitted disease.
The typical white, off-white, or colourless fluid we see every month for parts of our menstrual cycle is called cervical mucus.
It is a fluid that is produced by the cervix. The cervix is the part of your womb that connects it to the vagina. Its consistency varies depending on what part of your cycle it appears in.
Cervical Mucus changes in Menstrual Cycle
A woman has four parts of her cycle. In the same vein, cervical mucus has four types or appearances corresponding to a particular part of the cycle.
The Menstrual Cycle begins with the Menstrual period. Menstrual blood contains cervical mucus and sheddings from the inner lining of the uterus.
An average menstrual period lasts for about 3 to 7 days.
At this stage, follicles start developing to produce the one egg that will mature and be released to be fertilised at ovulation. Estrogen is the primary hormone released to ensure this process continues smoothly.
Day 1 to 4 post period
When the period is over, the cervical mucus produced is either dry or tacky. The tacky discharge can be white or yellow. This discharge lasts for four days after the period.
Day 4 to 6 post period
The cervical mucus produced at this stage is sticky, moist, and white.
Day 7 to 9 post period
Cervical mucus becomes creamy in consistency, resembling yoghurt or a kind of curd.
Day 10 to 14 post period
This is the fertile period of a woman’s cycle.
Estrogen levels drop, and luteinising hormone levels surge. The mature egg is released at this phase.
It is marked by slippery cervical mucus that resembles raw egg white in consistency. This consistency supports sperm travel by making the vaginal environment easy for sperm to pass through.
Progesterone levels rise at this phase to prepare the uterus for pregnancy. After ovulation, the inner walls of the uterus thicken to prepare for the implantation of an embryo. If fertilisation doesn’t occur, the thickened walls of the uterus break down to form menstrual blood during the menstrual phase.
Day 14 to 28 post period
After ovulation ends, no cervical mucus is produced until menstruation starts again.
Why is cervical mucus important?
It is a gel that contains fatty acids, proteins, lipids, prostaglandins, and other biological substances. The consistency and amount you notice changes because of the normal hormonal fluctuations in our menstrual cycles.
Also, there is an important but often overlooked function it performs – it can impede or enhance the transport of sperm along a woman’s reproductive tract. Just before and during ovulation, it improves sperm transport. After ovulation, it inhibits sperm transport.
This information is essential for women who prefer natural family planning.
Finally, Cervical mucus should not be ignored and forgotten about. If understood correctly, it can be a great determinator of reproductive health.
Please take note of your cervical mucus and see how it changes in amount and consistency as your menstrual cycle progresses. Your findings can be helpful if you are either trying to get pregnant or avoid getting pregnant.
Image source: pexels.com