Hostile Uterus

Last Updated: February 5, 2020

Definition - What does Hostile Uterus mean?

A hostile uterus, or more appropriately hostile cervical mucus, is a term used to describe cervical mucus that has become unfriendly to motile sperm and is not ideal for facilitating pregnancy.

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 is 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 the 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.

Intrauterine insemination (IUI) can be 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, bypassing the need for fertile cervical mucus.

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