Effects of chelating agents on the rheological property of cervical mucus

Contraception. 2002 Jun;65(6):435-40. doi: 10.1016/s0010-7824(02)00300-1.


As an ongoing effort to elucidate the mechanisms involved in the calcium-dependent fertility regulation process, the viscoelastic properties of the mucus obtained from lamb cervix and human semen, as well as their water and total protein contents after exposure to EDTA, a chelating agent, or Nonoxynol-9 (N-9), a spermicidal agent, were examined. The viscosity was measured using a Cone Plate Digital Viscometer, while the water and total protein contents were determined by the lyophilization process and the Lowry method, respectively. The significant changes in the rheological properties of mucus, such as its viscosity and the water content, upon exposure to EDTA were demonstrated. The viscosity of cervical mucus and human semen were significantly increased by EDTA treatment (as compared to the controls): lamb cervical mucus (2.9 +/- 0.3 vs. 2.2 +/- 0.3 cps) and human semen (5.0 +/- 0.3 vs. 4.3 +/- 0.3 cps), respectively. The hydration rate was decreased by EDTA treatment as compared with the control (93.6 +/- 0.7 vs. 96.8 +/- 0.8%). Among tested samples, the reduction in the percentage of sperm penetration through the cervical mucus was the highest in the mucus containing EDTA, which had the lowest water content (93.6 +/- 0.7%), indicating that there is a positive relationship between the hydration rate of the cervical mucus and its ability to permit the penetration of spermatozoa. This result indicates that spermicidal activity exerted by high concentrations of EDTA is in part due to its effect on the rheological properties of cervical mucus or semen.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cervix Mucus / chemistry*
  • Chelating Agents / pharmacology*
  • Edetic Acid / pharmacology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Nonoxynol / pharmacology*
  • Rheology / drug effects
  • Semen / chemistry
  • Semen / drug effects
  • Sheep
  • Sperm Motility / drug effects
  • Spermatocidal Agents / pharmacology*
  • Viscosity


  • Chelating Agents
  • Spermatocidal Agents
  • Nonoxynol
  • Edetic Acid