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What is Hostile Cervical Mucus?

Mary McMahon
Updated Feb 27, 2024
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Hostile cervical mucus is cervical mucus that prevents fertilization of an egg by limiting the free movement of sperm or killing off sperm, preventing the sperm from successfully reaching the egg. It is a potential cause of infertility and can also sometimes develop as a side effect of fertility drugs. There are methods available for dealing with this type of cervical mucus to give a couple an opportunity to try conceiving unassisted before turning to other options.

There are several reasons cervical mucus can be considered “hostile.” Most commonly, it is too thick for successful fertilization. Normally, cervical mucus during the optimal days in a woman's menstrual cycle for conceiving is thin, facilitating easy movement of sperm to the egg. When it is thick and sticky, the sperm have difficulty navigating; it is like rowing up a stream of molasses instead of a clear river.

Hostile cervical mucus can also be highly acidic. If the pH balance of cervical mucus is off, the sperm cannot survive. Rarely, women have anti-sperm antibodies in their mucus, white blood cells that identify sperm as hostile invaders and kill them off in an attempt to protect the body. Testing of the mucus can reveal the presence of high acidity or anti-sperm antibodies and can also be used to assess the mucus for thickness and other qualities.

A doctor may have some specific recommendations to help a patient with hostile cervical mucus, based on the doctor's experience and the patient's history. Sometimes, simply making dietary changes can address this condition. Cutting out dairy products and drinking ample fluids can be helpful. People may experience success with herbal supplements, like evening primrose oil, designed to promote the development of healthy cervical mucus. Some companies make products specifically designed to address hostile cervical mucus. Women can also talk to their doctors about adjusting medications, as sometimes changes in cervical mucus are caused by medications a woman is taking and the medications can be changed or temporarily suspended while a woman is trying to conceive.

If treatment attempts for hostile cervical mucus do not work, women can discuss their next options with their doctors. It is entirely possible to have quite healthy, viable eggs while the cervical mucus inhibits conception, and using in vitro fertilization may result in a healthy, low-risk pregnancy. In other cases, women may have other complications making conception challenging. A full evaluation can help a doctor gather information to use in making treatment recommendations.

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Mary McMahon
By Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a WiseGeek researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

Discussion Comments
By Fa5t3r — On Mar 08, 2013

@Ana1234 - The problem is that when you're trying and failing to get pregnant there is always such a big list of things you need to do. And yes, most of the time "relax" is on that list, but when you've got orders from the doctor to try a whole bunch of remedies, how can you really feel all that relaxed?

By Ana1234 — On Mar 08, 2013

@KoiwiGal - I agree. The worst thing is that often being stressed is one of the things that causes infertility (or at least, low fertility). There are countless stories about couples who relax, because they've finally managed to adopt a baby or given up trying to conceive, and they suddenly conceive.

It sounds like at least there are some hostile cervical mucus treatments out there for people to try, but honestly, I think they should take a couple of years first in which they just wait and see without stressing over what happens. I know that's not possible for everyone though.

By KoiwiGal — On Mar 07, 2013

I really don't like the way that they label this kind of condition. I know that it has nothing to do with the woman herself, but I can't help thinking that women who really want a baby will get this news, calling their genitals hostile, and will completely blame themselves.

Hostile just seems like such a loaded word. Especially when you are dealing with people who are probably already feeling bad about themselves and blaming themselves for something that's not really in their control.

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a...

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