When it comes to fertility, there are a lot of old wives’ tales out there. If you’ve heard the one about grapefruit juice improving your vaginal discharge (aka cervical mucus), you might have assumed it belonged in the same category as putting your legs up after sex (spoiler alert: that doesn’t work). But it turns out, there could be some validity to the whole grapefruit thing.
What does grapefruit juice have to do with cervical mucus?
To understand why, let’s first review the process of your body breaking down nutrients. Blood containing nutrients goes directly to your liver. The liver has enzymes—called cytochromes—that break down whatever they are given, including nutrients from food, medicines, and even hormones and other substances created in your body. Cytochromes are like a crazed toddler who breaks all the toys he can get his hands on. He doesn’t care if the toy is a truck, his sister’s doll, or even your iPhone—his job is to break everything he sees.
One particular cytochrome, CYP3A4, is responsible for breaking down steroid hormones including estrogen.
Grapefruit contains chemicals called furanocoumarins. When they are absorbed in the blood and sent to the liver, furanocoumarins temporarily disable CYP3A4. This means that for a short period of time—a few hours, perhaps—your body doesn’t have what it needs to break down estrogen. For this reason, estrogen hangs out in your body for a bit longer than it normally would, causing estrogen levels in your body to be higher.
Estrogen is the hormone you have to thank for cervical mucus. When your estrogen levels increase as you approach ovulation, your cervical mucus becomes more fertile. When estrogen levels are at their highest, cervical mucus takes on that famous egg white consistency. And if your cervical mucus production could use a little boost, *theoretically*, grapefruit juice could help.
Does it really work?
Nobody knows for sure. While the mechanism for how grapefruit juice could impact estrogen levels is known, what isn’t known is whether this effect is strong enough to have a significant impact on cervical mucus. We’re not aware of any clinical studies investigating this question. In the meantime, grapefruit juice certainly won’t hurt your cervical mucus production, and it tastes pretty good, so no harm in trying!
Actually, there might be some harm…
One important thing to keep in mind, however: drinking too much grapefruit juice can lead to overdosing on a number of prescription medications. It can also reduce the efficacy of other medications. So before you buy a gallon of the good, fresh squeezed stuff, check to make sure there are no interactions with any of your prescription medications.