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Cervical fluid (CF) is also sometimes called cervical mucus (CM). It refers to the fluid produced by the crypts of the cervix during the menstrual cycle. Changing throughout the menstrual cycle in response to ovarian hormones, cervical fluid is observable at the cervix or as it passes into the vagina.
The easiest and most effective way to know about the presence and quantity of estrogen in your bloodstream (and hence gain clues about your fertility status) is to examine your cervical fluid as it changes during your menstrual cycle. Observing these changes offers a primary fertility sign that can tell you a great deal about what is going on with your fertility.
When you are not fertile, at the beginning of your cycle and after ovulation, cervical fluid is dry and scant or sticky and cannot be penetrated by sperm. At these non-fertile times, the vagina is quite acidic and is even hostile to sperm. Cervical fluid at this time forms a barrier that plugs the cervical canal and prevents bacteria from entering the uterus.
As the presence of estrogen dramatically increases as ovulation approaches, this stimulates the production of large amounts of cervical fluid that is thin, stretchy, watery and alkaline- and receptive to sperm penetration. This most fertile fluid is best described as resembling raw egg white.
"Egg white" cervical fluid provides nourishment for sperm and allows them to move and thrive for the few days around ovulation when you are most fertile. When this kind of cervical fluid is present, sperm can be nourished and transported within your reproductive tract. Once in your reproductive tract in fertile cervical fluid, the sperm can wait for the egg to be released. This "egg white" fluid is usually observed in the most fertile days just before ovulation, drying up quickly after ovulation.
Ovulation is most likely to occur on the last day that fertile quality cervical fluid is observed, though this can vary. This day is often called the "peak" cervical fluid day, even though it may not be the day where the most fertile cervical fluid is observed. Cervical fluid observations, however, cannot tell you definitively that you have ovulated- just that estrogen is high, and ovulation is probably approaching.
Cervical fluid observations tell when you are most likely to be fertile and offer an excellent way to time baby-making intercourse. To know for sure that you have actually ovulated and are no longer fertile, you will need to chart your temperature as well and observe a thermal shift (temperature rise) on your chart.
The prime advantage of the cervical fluid sign is its ability to answer the question "Am I now fertile?" which is at least as relevant as the question "When did I ovulate?" It is not necessarily the same question.
Amazing Cervical Fluid
The main function of fertile cervical fluid in reproduction is similar to that of semen: as a medium for sperm nourishment and migration. Sperm survival and migration after intercourse is important because intercourse is rarely timed to exactly coincide with ovulation. Successful fertilization depends on the storage and constant release of sperm to the female upper reproductive tract at around ovulation time. Increased cervical fluid may also cause an increase in libido (sex drive) and produces lubrication to make intercourse more comfortable and pleasurable at this time.
Cervical Fluid supports sperm survival in the following ways:
"Typical" Cervical Fluid Pattern
While your cervical fluid pattern may vary from cycle to cycle and it may vary from woman to woman, a typical cervical fluid pattern looks like this:
Note: You may be fertile for up to a few days after observing fertile cervical fluid. FertilityFriend.com's Fertility Analyzer recognizes the cervical fluid types and will alert you to your fertility status based on the day's signs as well as previous days' signs if you may still be fertile.
Next Lesson: How to Observe, Chart, and Record Your Cervical Fluid
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