Recently, I came across an article that (unintentionally, I’m sure) tried to shade cervical fluid. In what I assume was an attempt to be humorous, the author referred to cervical fluid as “gross” and it stopped me right in my blog-reading tracks. Nothing wrong with a little lightheartedness, but madam blogger, can you not? Let me be honest. I have only recently become more comfortable with my bodily functions functioning. Full disclosure, I probably would have agreed with that assertion a few months ago: “HahaOMG cervical fluid *is* so gross, am I right?”
Look, I get it. We’ve all been there before -- some of us probably still are, and that’s fine! Why is it, though, that we are getting more comfortable talking about periods, but not cervical fluid? Could it be because we’re open to learning more and actually talking about our menstrual cycles? Period positive hashtags like #MenstruationMonday and #FreePeriods are driving period dialogue forward. It’s time we did the same for cervical fluid! How do we do that, you ask? By educating ourselves (and creating more cervical fluid-friendly hashtags). It’s time we have an honest conversation about cervical fluid.
Uncertainty and unfamiliarity can create an unwillingness to understand. In a 2011 interview with Oprah, Dr. Maya Angelou said something powerful and profound that speaks directly to my personal fertility awareness journey: “Now that I know better, I do better.” In my efforts to encourage our readers to continue learning about how our bodies work, I feel it is my charge to help us all remember to throw shine, not shade, on cervical fluid.
SO, WHAT IS IT?
Cervical fluid is a primary fertility sign.
Cervical fluid is one of three primary fertility signs that our bodies produce to help us learn more about our cycle. Many women commonly mistake healthy cervical fluid for discharge; often assuming they are experiencing a recurring vaginal infection. Once you learn how to observe and chart your cervical fluid, you will be able to determine the difference between an absolutely normal secretion and symptomatic discharge (that might require attention from your doctor).
Cervical fluid has several key functions.
Provides an alkaline (or “basic”/base pH level higher than 7) medium to protect sperm from the vagina’s acidic elements
Nourishes the sperm, acting as a filtering mechanism
Serves as a means/channel for sperm movement
Can indicate/help you identify an infection
Cervical fluid changes throughout your cycle.
While there are many personal variations (meaning every woman’s experience is different, essentially), the majority of women transition from dry to wet cervical fluid during their cycle. Cervical fluid is an indicator that ovulation is on the way. After your period and as you approach ovulation, cervical fluid secretions develop more fertile characteristics and you should notice a pattern of increasing wetness. A really easy way to remember this is to think of cervical fluid as a wave that gradually builds and then abruptly crashes down.
WHY IT’S OK AND PERFECTLY NORMAL.
Negative connotations condition us to associate normal fertility functions (like cervical fluid) with shame; something to be disgusted by. Taking Charge of Your Fertility author, Toni Weschler, makes an excellent point: “Cervical fluid is to the woman what seminal fluid is to the man. After all, we don’t refer to men’s healthy semen as ‘discharge’.” Toni actually suggests doing away with the “d-word” moniker (among other derogatory descriptions) to describe healthy cervical fluid. Give it a try and see if you outlook changes.
Our bodies are extraordinary and knowing how they work is empowering! Seriously. Learning about your body is an extremely personal, ongoing experience. I want to make sure we avoid feeling uncomfortable about the normal things our bodies do. So put some respect on cervical fluid’s name! It isn’t gross, it isn’t weird. It is normal and it is natural.
Still curious about cervical fluid and how it pertains to fertility awareness? Send your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.