The Many Faces of Cervical Mucus

The Many Faces of Cervical Mucus

Kindara | July 12, 2019 | Women's Health

Not everyone’s cervical mucus (CM)  matches the usual descriptions of sticky, creamy, egg white, or watery. This could cause confusion when charting, so today we’ll give you a very detailed description of the different types of CM and vaginal sensation and how to classify them. 

Vaginal sensation is an optional sign to chart (and only available in Kindara Premium), but noticing this can help you classify your CM as well. Vaginal sensation is the way your vagina *feels* when different types of cervical fluid are present. You know how you can tell if the inside of your nose is wet, like when you have a runny nose? And you know how you can tell if the inside of your nose feels dry, like when you are in an arid climate? You can tell the same things about your vagina too, if you pay attention. The way your vagina feels can give you a lot of insight on the state of your fertility and what kind of CM you’re likely to find.

One thing to keep in mind is that there is a baseline level of moisture that will always be present in the vulva and vagina to keep them healthy and protected. After all, it’s a mucous membrane, like your mouth. If you touched the inside of your cheek, it would be damp — same thing with the vagina. Don’t let that normal vaginal moisture confuse you. Unless there is a physical substance on your fingers or toilet paper, it doesn’t count as CM. (The exception here is watery CM: sometimes the water content is so high that there is nothing that will hold together, and it’s just plain wet. But in those cases there is usually so much of it that there is no question about whether or not it’s CM.)

 CM is measured above that baseline level of moisture. Immediately after your period, it tends to start out on the drier end of the spectrum and increases in water content as you approach ovulation. Generally, the higher the water content, the more fertile the CM. After ovulation, the water content will decrease. To rely on CM for avoiding pregnancy, especially when you are first learning about your body, consider all CM as potentially fertile.  Any CM you notice before ovulation means that your fertile window has begun. It’s highly recommended to meet with a fertility awareness coach or attend classes to learn about when you are in the safe zone or not for unprotected intercourse. 

If you are trying to get pregnant, on the other hand, certain types of CM are optimal for getting pregnant. So, shall we launch our boat onto the sea of CM exploration? Let’s!

These are the different categories of CM:

None
  • What it feels like (vaginal sensation): dry or maybe even a little tacky, like when you fall asleep with your mouth open.
  • What it looks like: nothing! 
  • What it feels like on your fingers: a slight dampness, maybe a slight dampness on your fingers that quickly evaporates (which means it’s that baseline moisture we talked about).
  • What it looks like on your underwear: nothing. Squeaky clean. You could wear those underpants again tomorrow if you wanted.
Sticky

Sticky has the least amount of water content.

  • What it feels like (vaginal sensation): dry, sticky, tacky, or like nothing’s going on.
  • What it looks like: whitish or yellowish, tiny bits of clear gummy bears, dried rubber cement, grade school paste, clumpy, pasty, crumbled cheese.
  • What it feels like on your fingers: springy, sticky, crumbly, dry, pasty, tacky, gummy.
  • What it looks like on your underpants: white or yellowish lines or areas that tend to sit on the top of the fabric rather than soaking in. When it dries it forms a crust that can be difficult to wash out on laundry day.
Creamy

Think of creamy as transitional from sticky to eggwhite. It has more water content than sticky but less than egg white.

  • What it feels like (vaginal sensation): cool, slightly damp, or may not feel like anything.
  • What it looks like: milky or cloudy, like hand lotion or moisturizer, yogurt, whole milk, whipped cream, or heavy cream.
  • What it feels like on your fingers: smooth, creamy.
  • What it looks like on your underpants: white or yellowish lines or areas that tend to sit on the top of the fabric, as opposed to soaking in. When it dries it forms a crust that can be hard to wash out on laundry day.
Egg white

Egg white has the second highest water content of the different types and is considered very fertile (1)

  • What it feels like (vaginal sensation): slippery, lubricative, wet.
  • What it looks like: raw egg whites, wet rubber cement, can be clear or cloudy, stretchy.
  • What it feels like on your fingers: slippery, lubricative, viscous, or stretches an inch or more between thumb and forefinger.
  • What it looks like on your underpants: slippery, wet, may sit on top of the fabric or soak in slightly.
Watery

Watery CM has the highest water content and is most fertile.

  • What it feels like (vaginal sensation): water rushing, dripping, or gushing out of your vagina; cold, wet sensation.
  • What it looks like: clear or milky/clear, about the consistency of water or skim milk.
  • What it feels like on your fingers: wet, slippery; if you wave your hand around and it doesn’t dry, that’s how you know it’s CM rather than vaginal moisture.
  • What it looks like on your underpants: leaves round wet patches that soak into your underpants. 

Sometimes CM is not obvious, especially since you can have more than one type on the same day (3), but we hope these descriptions help you identify it. Here are a few other things to keep in mind:


  • Not everyone will observe all types of CM, and that’s ok!
  • Try all the methods above to identify your CM: look at it, rub it between your finger tips, touch your underwear. You may find that one method works better for you, and that could change each day depending on what’s going on with your body.
  • Practice and consistency are key to understanding your own patterns. Keep at it!






References

  1. https://americanpregnancy.org/getting-pregnant/cervical-mucus/
  2. Weschler, Toni. (2015). Taking Charge of Your Fertility: The definitive Guide to Natural Birth Control, Pregnancy Achievement, and Reproductive Health
  3. https://www.med.unc.edu/timetoconceive/study-participant-resources/cervical-mucus-testing-information/