Want to know why cervical mucus is an important fertility indicator and what you can do to improve it? Read on to know more.
Cervical mucus is a type of discharge that changes throughout your menstrual cycle. Having it, is a healthy sign of regular ovulation.
It is one method of monitoring your fertility and predicting ovulation. The other two methods are basal body temperature and your cervical position.
Basal body temperature only shows you when you have already ovulated but not when you are about to ovulate. And cervical position can be difficult to figure out for a lot of women.
In my experience cervical mucus is the most reliable, most practical and easiest method to understand and to check.
Around ovulation when a woman is fertile the cervical fluid is watery, thin, and slippery, and it may resemble egg white.
What is cervical mucus?
Cervical mucus is a fluid that is released by the cervix into the vagina midway through the cycle.
It has several functions, including keeping the vagina lubricated and preventing infection.
Ovulation occurs when an ovary releases an egg for fertilisation.
Throughout the menstrual cycle, hormones like oestrogen and progesterone influence the amount, texture, and appearance of cervical mucus.
There may be enough mucus for a person to notice it in their underwear. Even though the cervix always produces some mucus, it makes more right before and after ovulation.
Why is cervical mucus important?
Cervical mucus is a sign that ovulation is approaching.
It helps sperm move up the cervix to fertilise the egg. And it helps it stay healthy during the journey.
Sperm can live longer in your uterus if you have a healthy cervical mucus. It can last for up to 5 days and therefore increase your chances of conceiving.
Women usually start noticing a discharge a few days before ovulation. This discharge may change and become wetter and more slippery over several days. After ovulation the discharge will decrease and normally become thicker and dry out.
How does cervical mucus change during your cycle?
Everyone’s cervical mucus is slightly different. So, to detect fertile cervical fluid properly, you should monitor your cycle for several months.
The days when the discharge changes vary from person to person. However in general it should be as follows:
Days 1-5 (period): menstruation occurs.
Days 5-10 (post-menstruation): there may be a little or no discharge, but sticky and glue-like fluid. This is a time of low fertility.
Days 10-14 (pre-ovulation): the body starts to produce more oestrogen. The sticky fluid may become thinner and look cloudy. Eventually, it gets slippery and begins to look like egg white. Also your sex drive should start to become stronger.
Day 14 (ovulation): on ovulation day or even one day before you may notice that your cervical fluid is very wet and viscous. You should be able to stretch it a couple of centimetres or more between your fingers.
Days 14–22 (post-ovulation): after ovulation, the body releases the hormone progesterone, which dries up cervical fluid. The discharge may look cloudy at first, then become thicker.
Days 22-28 (pre-period): the discharge may have a glue-like consistency again. There tends to be little or no discharge 1–2 days before your menstruation.
Ovulation plays a significant role in determining the consistency of cervical fluid. A woman who does not ovulate may notice fewer changes in their vaginal discharge. Someone who ovulates early or late may find a different pattern in the fertile cervical discharge.
When are you most fertile?
You should start monitoring your cycle as soon as you can and do it for several months to detect a healthy fertile discharge. It is a good indicator of increased fertility.
If you are trying to get pregnant you should have intercourse during the time you have the fertile discharge.
An egg lives for about 12-24 hours after ovulation but sperm can live up to 5 days if your cervical mucus is healthy and fertile. This means that the best time to have intercourse is up to 5 days before ovulation as the sperm can live in the reproductive tract for several days and be ready for fertilisation as soon as you ovulate.
How should you check it?
To keep an eye on your fertility, check the appearance of your cervical fluid at least once a day, starting from the first day after your period and through to ovulation.
To check for cervical fluid:
- after using the bathroom, wipe the area around the vagina to remove any excess urine, which can change the appearance of cervical fluid
- pat the area with toilet paper. Make a note of any visible fluid
- wash your hands. Gently insert a finger about one cm into the vagina
- remove the finger and note the color, texture, and general appearance of the fluid
- if the fluid is clear, thin, watery, and stretchy, it may be fertile cervical discharge
What can you do to improve cervical mucus?
There are several things you can do to improve the quantity and quality of your cervical fluid:
- drink more water during the first part of your cycle, up to ovulation. Women who are dehydrated may produce less cervical fluid or it might be too thick
- if you cervical mucus has a slight yellowish tint it probably means that it is too acidic and therefore you need to drink less coffee, alcohol and eat less red meats. Compensate with alkaline foods such as more vegetables and whole grains
- get plenty of rest, try to get at least 8 hours of sleep every night
- don’t do too much exercise but also don’t be too sedentary. Make sure you keep an active routine
- consume more omega fatty acids by increasing your consumption of fish
- Chinese herbs do a wonderful job in helping increase your cervical fluid. They need to be prescribed by a trained and experienced practitioner. For problems related to cervical fluid the herbs should be taken during the first part of your cycle
- acupuncture treatments taken regularly can also help increase cervical fluid
- reduce or eliminate dairy foods
- foods rich in vitamin A can also help increase cervical fluid
- don’t smoke cigarettes
- certain medications can also have a negative impact on cervical fluid. Consult with your doctor before making any change with the medications your are taking
Keeping track of the appearance and consistency of cervical fluid can help a woman determine when they are fertile.
This method is most reliable when a woman has monitored her changes in fluid for several months and knows what to look for and her usual pattern.
Many people also use other methods of monitoring fertility, such as basal body temperature and ovulation tests. A combination of different approaches can provide more certainty about when you are ovulating.
It is important to mention that having fertile cervical fluid is not a sure sign of fertility, there are other things to consider when trying to get pregnant.
A trained and experienced practitioner can help you conceiving. Read this post if you want to know how acupuncture can help you achieve this.
In good health!