The volume and consistency of the cervical mucus produced by your body is an example of your reproductive health. To know the stages of your menstrual cycle and to plan pregnancy it is important to tack the changes in cervical mucus. The cervical mucus provides the path for the sperm cells to swim towards the uterus. So, for the sperms to do their job of reaching the uterus your body should secrete the right quantity of mucus. Poor quantity and quality of cervical mucus making it hard for the sperm cells to swim towards the uterus. If cervical mucus is too thick then sperm cannot penetrate and move upwards through it.
In this article, we will understand the importance of cervical mucus for pregnancy and before we start discussing it in detail it should be understood that secretion of cervical mucus differs from woman to woman. So, do not worry if you have less production of cervical mucus, as there are several ways available for you to improve its quality and quantity and make it sperm-friendly.
Monitoring of your Cervical Mucus
When you are planning to get pregnant, tracking the cervical mucus consistency which is also known as the cervical mucus method is considered an effective, free, and self-directed fertility awareness option to know the fertile window. The monitoring of cervical mucus helps you to plan for better conceiving. You can know your ovulation and can plan timed intercourse around your fertile window by effectively monitoring the cervical mucus.
Cervical mucus monitoring can also help you to take precautions to avoid unwanted pregnancy by giving your idea of your safe (days when your fertility is low and there is a low chance of pregnancy) and unsafe days (days when there is higher fertility that can make pregnancy to happen). If you want to track cervical mucus to avoid unwanted pregnancy, then you need to chart the changes of mucus for at least one cycle and you should also get guidance from your doctor.
Ways of Monitoring Cervical Mucus
The changes in cervical mucus can be recorded by means of 3 methods namely the Billings Ovulation method, the 2-day method, and the Creighton method. These methods can help to know the patterns of your cycle get pregnant or take precautions to avoid pregnancy and also help to get familiar with the symptoms that you come across during your monthly cycle. Whatever method you choose to follow from the above 3, there are few steps that are involved to check for the changes. These steps are like:
- Using a fresh toilet paper you can wipe the entrance of your vagina when you are about to pass urine and look for the presence of any mucus on the paper.
- The next one is, getting a note of the appearance, color, and texture of cervical mucus on the inner side of your panty or underwear.
- Slowly insert a clean index or middle finger into the vagina to see the color and feel the consistency of mucus. Again here we should take care to differentiate whether we see cervical mucus or a simple vaginal secretion that is stick to the fingers. For this, all you have to do after inserting the finger into the vagina is to keep the finger immediately into a glass of water. On doing this, if you see the substance keep stuck onto the finger or sinks to the bottom of the glass, and then it is the cervical mucus. And on the other hand, if the substance starts to leave your finger or float in water, then it is your simple vaginal secretion that is secreted to keep the vagina clean.
Now that you have started to examine the cervical mucus, from here we shall focus to know what do the changes mean, what variations of mucus can you see and how to know whether it is fertility or non-fertile.
Changes are seen in Cervical Mucus throughout the Menstrual Cycle
In this section of the article, you will be able to identify the changes in mucus. By gaining knowledge of these changes, you can also identify when you are in your fertile days and when you are not.
The changes that can be seen with cervical mucus are:
- Dry Mucus: You can find this type of mucus texture before your period, during the period and once immediately your period ends.
- Slightly Damp Mucus: This kind of cervical mucus is produced during the first 3 to 4 days following your period.
- Thick in Consistency: This consistency of mucus is seen when one egg from the ovarian follicle reaches maturity and it may be around 10th day if your menstrual cycle length is 28 days. You may have intermediate fertility levels when there is the secretion of such creamy or sticky mucus.
- Stretchy and Slippery: These are your peak fertile days. Cervicals mucus is quite stretchy and mimics the consistency of egg-white. Prior to your ovulation, you can notice this kind of mucus production, like on day 14 if your cycle length is 28 days.
Title: Nature of Cervical Mucus before your Period Starts
You cannot notice any secretion of cervical mucus during the days leading up to your periods. But when you try wiping your vagina with the help of toilet paper, you may find some shiny residue on the paper which is known as vaginal cell slough.
This type of cervicals mucus is dry inconsistency. But if you try inserting a finger into the vagina you may feel slightly damp to touch kind of mucus.
You have the least fertility rate when there is this kind of mucus secretion. There is very little chance of sperm to travel through the vaginal tract due to less moisture and less mucus.
Title: Nature of Cervical Mucus once your Period Starts
You will not see any mucus during the first 3 to 4 days after your period. But still, you can feel a slight damp sensation near your vaginal opening. Your fertility is low even at this stage. The damp or moist feel is due to rising estrogen levels at this stage.
Title: Nature of Cervical Mucus before Ovulation
After completion of the period and before commencing of ovulation, the dominant ovarian follicle starts to mature into a fully developed egg. This happens about day 10th in a 28-day menstrual cycle.
You may feel a slipper and wet substance around your vaginal region and sometimes you may mistake it as you got the period. It may look white or yellowish and sticky to the touch. When you notice this kind of mucus on your underwear or when you can feel it by means of inserting a finger, it indicates that you are about to enter your fertile window and are going through intermediate fertility.
Title: Most Fertile Cervical Mucus
A few days before your ovulation, mostly on the 14th day of the cycle, you may feel increased wetness at your vaginal opening. It may make you feel as if the water is flowing out from your vagina. The mucus gives a damp feel when touched and it will evaporate even if the finger is rubbed against the other. You can also make it to stretch for at least an inch between the fingers without a break. It looks creamy and is compared to an egg white and you can see it as a wet patch on your underwear and never dries completely. This is the maximum amount of mucus that is produced during your entire cycle and indicates your most fertile days. Your chance of getting pregnant is two to three times more when there is a production of stretchy egg white cervicals mucus. If you plan to have sex you get a greater chance of conceiving.
Title: Nature of Cervical Mucus after Ovulation
Once ovulation gets completed, your body produces very less cervical mucus which may look cloudy and sticky to feel. You can see the return of dry cervicals mucus at this stage if you do not get pregnant. There is no mucus secretion at all after ovulation.
The difference in Cervicals Mucus from Person to Person
The above-discussed stages of cervical mucus are the most commonly observed types. Some women experience more than a single type of cervicals mucus secretion in a single day while some other women feel that they do not produce certain types of mucus at all.
You should know that a lower amount of cervical mucus is secreted during certain hormonal imbalance disorders that cause anovulation.
In polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), there is a production of thick and dense cervicals mucus that makes it difficult for sperms to pass through and thus results in infertility.
Abnormal thyroid conditions like hyper or hypothyroidism show a negative impact on reproductive health. Thyroid issues are said to cause reduced rates of conception, increased loss of pregnancy in early stages, and other adverse pregnancy and newborn outcomes.
Other factors that can cause changes in cervical mucus secretion are breastfeeding, douching, and early menopause, usage of hormonal birth control, STIs, and surgery of the cervix.
Monitoring cervicals mucus is a very effective measure to know the pattern of your ovulation process. It helps to know when you are ovulating and thus help to plan to have sexual intercourse during your most fertile days. You should focus on increasing the quality and quantity of cervicals mucus so that sperm can easily swim through and reach the fallopian tubes for fertilizing the egg.