Definition - What does Hostile Uterus mean?
A hostile uterus or more appropriately hostile cervical mucus is a term used to describe a state in which the fluid secreted by the glands of the cervix, called cervical mucus or cervical fluid is no longer in its ideal position of facilitating pregnancy but has become unfriendly to the motile sperm. As a result, the sperm loses its ability to penetrate a woman’s cervix and is even killed prior to making its way into the fallopian tube to fertilize the egg. Hostile cervical mucus, therefore, acts as a barrier against a woman’s potential to conceive.
The term "hostile uterus" is medical jargon that usually signifies hostile cervical mucus; the two being used interchangeably due to the fact that cervix is the lowermost portion of the uterus.
FertilitySmarts explains Hostile Uterus
The consistency of the cervical mucus changes throughout the menstrual cycle. As ovulation approaches, the estrogen levels peak that cause the cervical mucus to attain a watery, raw egg white-like consistency, providing a receptive environment for the access of sperm into the cervix and up towards the rest of the reproductive tract. However, after ovulation, the cervical mucus becomes non-fertile with a thick and creamy consistency that blocks the entry of sperm into the cervix. This period is known as non-peak cervical mucus.
Sometimes, regardless of the stage of the menstrual cycle, the consistency of the cervix can change based on a number of factors. These factors prevent the normal fluidity of the cervical mucus, which can prevent the entry of the sperm or even destroying it. A few of these factors are as follows:
- Hormonal imbalances, especially low estrogen states, such as premature ovarian failure, anorexia nervosa, or use of medications like gonadotropin-releasing hormone agonists, clomiphene citrate, and aromatase inhibitors.
- Reduced pH of cervical mucus: Sperm prefer an alkaline environment to survive; certain infections can increase the acidity of the cervical mucus and contribute to cervical hostility.
- The presence of inflammatory cells in the cervix (cervicitis), such as secondary to vaginal or cervical infection thickens the cervical mucus.
- The presence of an anti-sperm antibody: An immune protein (antibody) directed against the sperm can coat the cervical mucus, attacking the sperm and interfering with the capability of a woman to get pregnant.
Treatment of cervical hostility varies with its cause. Doctors usually prescribe a synthetic estrogen called Ethinyl estradiol to increase the fluidity of the mucus. If this doesn't work, a procedure called intrauterine insemination is also used to bypass the "hostile" cervical mucus. In this technique, the physician directly injects sperm into the uterus by way of a small tube passed through the cervix.