Most women don’t often pay attention to vaginal discharge. If you’re trying for a baby then you’ll have a greater appreciation of it and will become in-tune with how it changes throughout the month. Along with using ovulation tests and tracking the days between your period, monitoring cervical mucous can help you find the most fertile time of the month.
What is cervical mucous?
Cervical mucous is a vaginal fluid or discharge produced by the cervix and a natural sign of fertility. It nourishes and protects sperm as it makes the long journey through the female reproductive tract to meet the egg.
Changes in cervical mucous signals when you are the least and most fertile during the month. The consistency, colour, sensation and amount of cervical mucous changes throughout the month due to hormonal changes (oestrogen) in the menstrual cycle that prepares your body for ovulation.
How does cervical mucous change before ovulation?
Every woman has a different pattern but this is generally what cervical mucous looks like throughout the month:
- A few days after your period: little or no cervical mucous, considered ‘dry’
- A week before ovulation: thick, white, creamy or cloudy in colour, often described as like hand lotion
- A few days before ovulation: clear, watery and slightly stretchy. This consistency is the start of your fertile window.
- Ovulation, clear, very wet and very stretchy, often described as ‘raw egg whites’. This is when you’re most fertile.
- After ovulation: returns back to dry, cloudy or sticky
During low fertile days of the menstrual cycle, cervical mucous has a consistency that’s dry, sticky or thick and not sperm-friendly. Sperm die quickly if there is no cervical mucous.
As you approach ovulation, oestrogen levels start to increase which increases the amount of fluid and changes the quality of cervical mucous. A lot of cervical mucous during ovulation keeps sperm healthy and helps sperm swim through to fertilise an egg.
How can I check my cervical mucous?
You can check cervical mucous on your underwear or wiping with toilet paper, but finger testing can be done too. Just use the same method each day.
It can take 3-4 months to understand patterns and changes in your cervical mucous. At first, it’s confusing to decide what egg white mucous looks like. But becoming familiar with your cervical mucous pattern can help you predict when ovulation is about to occur.
Try to note down these changes either using an app or in a diary. I like the Ovia app which gives 4 cervical mucous options:
- School glue (creamy/sticky)
- Water (clear/liquidy)
- Egg whites (clear/stretchy)
I’ve been tracking my cycles and using ovulation test strips for about 3 months. I have a 30-day cycle with ovulation usually on day 20. From days 15-19, I get the ‘water’ type of cervical mucous and then the ‘egg whites’ type for 1-2 days around day 20. Then after day 21, there is usually no fluid until I get my period and the next cycle starts.
What can affect the quality of cervical mucous?
Cervical mucous is mainly made up of water: stay hydrated and drink plenty of water to improve the quality of cervical mucous.
Below is a list of things that can dry up or reduce the quality of cervical mucous:
- Medications (prescription and over-the-counter) such as those used to treat colds, allergies, infertility and depression
- Medical conditions, such as PCOS or other hormonal issues
- Older age.
Speak to your doctor or gynecologist about the quality of your cervical mucous if you have a lot of dry days in your cycle.