Spinnbarkeit

Last revised by Patrick O'Shea on 30 Mar 2022

Spinnbarkeit is a property of viscoelastic fluids that describes their capacity to be drawn out into an unbroken strand 1. Synonymous terms include spinnability and fibrosity. Human bodily fluids that can exhibit a degree of spinnbarkeit include mucus (especially cervical mucus), saliva and synovial fluid 1-3.

Clinical importance

The degree of spinnbarkeit observed in cervical mucus correlates strongly with endogenous estrogen levels 3. Cervical mucus that is able to be drawn out to a maximum length usually precedes or coincides with ovulation 4. An unbroken, six centimeter strand of mucus is a common metric used in family planning to identify fertile days of the menstrual cycle 5. After ovulation, relative estrogen deficit and rising progesterone levels cause the cervical mucus to thicken and lose spinnbarkeit 3.

The spinnbarkeit of bronchial secretions is critical to the efficient functioning of the mucociliary escalator 6.

History and etymology

German chemist Hans Erbring (1903 - 1982) coined the term spinnbarkeit in his experiments with viscoelastic fluids. The term itself is German for spinnability 7.

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