Cervical mucus tells a woman when she is fertile, when she is about to ovulate, and also plays a pivotal role in the protection of her reproductive health. The number of women that have no clue that their vaginal discharge or cervical mucus (CM) can give signs about their fertility and health is astonishing. Why CM is not taught to every single woman is beyond comprehension. It’s easy to learn how to monitor, does not require any equipment, nor examinations by a doctor. By learning about CM at the most basic level, women will learn that their bodies are normal and that their discharge is nothing to be ashamed of. In fact, it is something to be extremely proud of; not only because it may provide insight into whether or not you have a healthy hormonal balance and when you are fertile, but also because that stuff on your underwear is essential for creating life.
If you don’t already know about CM, you may first be amazed by it and then, as Toni Weschler, states, “the second thing you may experience is a sense of frustration and even anger when you realize how little you understood about your body before. No, you were probably not experiencing recurring vaginal infections all the time. No, you were not dirty and in need of douching away the ‘discharge.’” Once you learn how to monitor your CM, you will see how your body goes from little to no CM, to thick creamy CM that turns into slippery, watery fluid. Each change indicates what point you are in your cycle. The slippery, watery fluid, for example, indicates that you are in your fertile window and about to ovulate.
Why Cervical Mucus is amazing
CM is amazing! From protecting our bodies against infections to giving us insight into whether we are fertile or not, here is a list of some of the roles CM plays:
Protects the uterine cavity from pathogens
Controls whether sperm will survive or make it into the uterine cavity by transporting and nourishing sperm during fertile window*
Functions as a barrier to sperm cells when outside the fertile window
Acts as a ‘passive filter’ by selecting and excluding sperm cells with defective locomotive mechanisms.
Shows signs of where a woman is in her fertile cycle with and can be used as part of a reliable method to either get pregnant or avoid pregnancy (Curlin 2013) (Billings LIFE)
Can be used to help women to detect infection when experiencing abnormal mucus patterns
Can be useful in detecting the cause and treatment of infertility (Curlin 2013)
*The fertile window is generally the 5 days prior to ovulation and the day of ovulation
How monitoring your cervical mucus can tell you when you are fertile
As your hormones change throughout your cycle each month, so does your CM. Here is a snapshot of how your CM might change and what these changes indicate in regards to your fertility, but note that not everyone will experience all of these types of CM; some will have no dry days, some will skip from sticky directly to slippery. Keep tracking and you’ll find your own pattern of CM and uncover what it means for your body.
During your period:
CM patterns are difficult to identify during menstruation, so wait until it is over to monitor.
The dry days:
After your period, you will typically have no to little CM.
The cloudy days:
As the egg starts to ripen, your CM typically will take on a yellow, white, or cloudy look. It will feel sticky or tacky.
The creamy days:
This CM is generally described as creamy or lotiony. If you have it on your fingertip and rub your thumb and forefinger together, it will feel a little like lotion or moisturizer.
The wet & slippery days:
When you are about to ovulate, estrogens work to increase the hydration of the mucus. This makes the mucus more watery and slippery, allowing the sperm to get through the vaginal canal (Curlin 2013). This type of mucus tends to be clear and slippery. It is often referred to as raw egg white and can be stretched between your fingers.
After about 4 slippery days, you may suddenly have less mucus. It may get cloudy and sticky again, followed by a few more dry days, or your CM may dry up immediately. Then, your period starts and the cycle repeats. This wet and slippery type of CM is when you are most fertile and is when you are most likely to get pregnant. (Thijssen 2014). After a couple of days of the wet and slippery type of CM, it may suddenly dry up and get cloudy and sticky again before your period starts (Planned Parenthood). When charting your CM, the last day of the your fertile window, or the Peak Day, is the last day of egg white or wet type of fluid. After the Peak Day, the abrupt drying up of CM is caused by the beginning of progesterone. The Peak Day usually occurs about a day or two before you ovulate, or the day of ovulation, and is characterized by the last day of the wet, slippery fertile CM.
CM was even found in one large study to be able to predict the days of when you are fertile as well as or better than urinary luteinizing hormone (LH) monitoring (Bigelow JL, Dunson DB, and team.(Source: Mucus observations in the fertile window: a better predictor of conception than timing of intercourse. Hum Reprod 2004, 19, 889-92).
How amazing is cervical mucus? In Dr. Jerilynn Prior podcast, she explains how important regular ovulation is for bone, heart, and breast health. By charting your CM you can learn about your cycle, be able to tell more readily when you have an infection, and even use CM charting with other signs to achieve your fertility goals whether to get pregnant or avoid pregnancy. CM is nothing to be ashamed of and is, again, in fact something to be proud of. The more women taught about CM, the more they would be empowered to understand their bodies and make better health decisions.