A woman’s cervical mucus needs to be hospitable to sperm for conception to occur. When her mucus is too thick for sperm to swim through, doesn’t contain the right nutrients, or holds antisperm antibodies, sperm can’t reach the egg for fertilization to occur.
Here at the California Center for Reproductive Health, our team considers cervical factor when assessing fertility. Here’s how we evaluate cervical mucus and overcome cervical factor infertility.
About cervical mucus
The cervix is the opening to the uterus. The cervix produces a fluid, called mucus, that is important to conception. You might notice your mucus changes throughout the month due to hormones. Before ovulation, your cervical mucus tends to be thick, white, and dry.
Just before ovulation, the time when an egg is released, your mucus turns clear and slippery. This consistency indicates it’s a great time to try to conceive, as the mucus is ideal for sperm to swim through.
What can go wrong with cervical mucus
In women who have cervical factor infertility, the mucus may contain antisperm antibodies that attack the sperm. The antibodies perceive sperm as a foreign invader, much like bacteria or viruses. The antibodies are produced by a skewed immune system.
Cervical mucus can also be too thick or not have the nutrients to support sperm. Cervical factor infertility may also be caused by certain medications, cervical or uterine surgery, congenital anomalies, and unexplained factors.
Diagnosis of cervical factor infertility
We start your infertility workup with a comprehensive review of your medical history. This can help us determine if you have risk factors that make cervical factor a possible contributor to infertility.
The old way to diagnose cervical factor was a postcoital test. This test searched for sperm in the cervical mucus after intercourse at the time of ovulation. But the postcoital test gave inaccurate and inconsistent information and isn’t the best way to assess cervical factor.
At California Center for Reproductive Health, we use transvaginal ultrasonography and mock embryo transfers. This method is much more reliable in determining whether abnormalities exist within your cervical mucus.
Think of the mock embryo transfer as a trial run of an actual embryo transfer. It allows us to determine the best way for the embryo to enter your uterus and check for problems like scar tissue or poor quality cervical mucus that might deter your ability to successfully conceive with IVF (in vitro fertilization.)
Treatment for cervical factor infertility
For women with mild cervical factor infertility, intrauterine insemination is a valid treatment option. We pass sperm directly into the uterine cavity, bypassing the cervix. This allows the sperm to meet the egg with no swimming required.
IVF is also a an option as is GIFT or ZIFT (gamete or zygote intrafallopian transfer). This procedure takes eggs from your ovaries and puts them in a catheter along with sperm. The gametes (eggs and sperm) or zygote (fertilized egg) are place in the fallopian tubes via a minimally invasive surgical procedure that uses tiny instruments and a micro camera.
If you’re struggling with infertility, reach out to California Center for Reproductive Health. We’ll assess your cervical mucus and other aspects of your reproductive health (and your partner’s) to create a customized plan to help you achieve pregnancy. Call one of our offices in Encino, Alhambra, Valencia, or West Hollywood if you’re ready to explore your fertility options.