Cervical mucus is the secretion discharged from your cervix throughout your menstrual cycle. The fertility hormone levels in your body control the consistency and the colour of the cervical mucus—consequently, the appearance of the discharge changes throughout your menstrual cycle. Cervical mucus can tell much about your reproductive health, including whether you are nearing ovulation.
It is possible to keep track of the various phases of your menstrual cycle, including ovulation, if you keep track of your cervical mucus throughout your cycle. The cervical mucus method is the method to track the colour and consistency of the cervical mucus to predict your ovulation.
Although spotting the changes in your cervical mucus can be a bit difficult initially, as you practice, it will get much easier than other methods of predicting ovulation. This post will discuss cervical mucus in general and how to use the cervical mucus method to predict ovulation.
What does cervical mucus look like during ovulation?
The nature of the cervical mucus changes quite dramatically near ovulation. Ovulation is triggered by a sudden increase in the Luteinizing Hormone (LH), known as the LH surge. The increased LH level also affects the cervical mucus’s colour and consistency. If you observe your cervical mucus near ovulation, you will observe the following:
- An increased volume of discharge
- The mucus appears almost transparent
- The consistency of the mucus resembles that of an uncooked raw egg white
These changes in the cervical mucus are vital for protecting the sperm as it passes through the uterus to fertilise the egg released during ovulation.
Soon after the ovulation, the LH level falls, and there is a shift in the consistency of the cervical mucus. The discharge becomes less transparent and has almost a cloudy appearance.
Cervical Mucus in Sperm Transport and Fertilisation
While the changes in cervical mucus during ovulation primarily signal fertility, they also have biological significance. The cervical mucus produced during ovulation is alkaline and serves as an ideal medium for sperm transport. Its egg-white consistency aids the sperm in swimming through the cervical canal. Moreover, cervical mucus filters out abnormal sperm and provides essential nutrients for the sperm to survive as they reach the fallopian tubes. Understanding the protective and nourishing role of cervical mucus during ovulation can enhance the utilisation of natural family planning methods.
How to check for the changes in your cervical discharge
It is quite easy to check the consistency and colour of your cervical mucus. The most popular methods to get this done include the following:
It is the most straightforward method to check cervical mucus. All you need to do is stand normally as you would, insert a tampon, and insert a finger into your vagina. When you withdraw your finger from the vagina, you can check the texture and colour of the mucus stuck to your finger. Note how the mucus feels, its colour, and its consistency. It would be best to do it throughout your cycle to look for any changes during the ovulation.
It might take a few tries to get it right, but you will get better as you keep practising. If you want to read detailed instructions, please read our How to Check Your Cervix and Cervical Position blog to learn more about how to check your cervix at home and your cervical mucus.
Checking with a panty liner
This method requires wearing a panty liner throughout your menstrual cycle after you stop menstruating. As the mucus is secreted throughout the day, some of it will be absorbed into the panty liner, and you can easily check the colour of the mucus. That said, this method can make it difficult to track the consistency of the mucus as it is absorbed into the material of the panty liner.
Checking with a toilet paper
In this method, you take a small folded-up piece of toilet paper and wipe your vagina opening. Note down the colour and consistency of the mucus stuck on the toilet paper’s surface. You need to do it daily, especially when just starting on the cervical method of ovulation prediction.
While using this method, one thing to remember is never to check the cervical mucus after urinating. Always perform the check before you urinate.
The cervical mucus method of ovulation tracking
It takes time and patience to predict ovulation using this method. As you need to know how your mucus appears throughout your cycle so that you can notice the changes when they happen, you need to establish a baseline. You must check the mucus daily and note how it appears and feels. Once you do this over a few menstrual cycles, it will become easy to spot the mucus consistency and colour changes as you approach ovulation.
According to some estimates, the success rate of the cervical mucus method is as high as 23% during the first year of women trying to track their ovulation. According to the Mayo Clinic, women might require formal training to enhance their ability to spot changes and improve their chances of predicting ovulation accuracy.
It is also important to note that several other factors can change the nature of the discharge. Bacterial vaginosis and other infections of the vagina can alter the discharge considerably.
Combining Cervical Mucus Monitoring with Other Fertility Awareness Methods
Monitoring cervical mucus is a natural and cost-effective way to track fertility. However, combining cervical mucus monitoring with other fertility awareness methods is often beneficial to enhance the accuracy of predicting ovulation. These complementary approaches can offer a more holistic understanding of one’s menstrual cycle and fertility.
One popular method is ovulation tests or ovulation predictor kits (OPKs). These tests detect the luteinising hormone (LH) surge approximately 24-36 hours before ovulation. By using these kits daily during the anticipated fertile window, women can pinpoint the most likely day of ovulation. Ovulation tests are simple; they typically involve testing urine samples with test strips indicating LH levels.
Another widely used method is tracking basal body temperature (BBT). BBT is the body’s lowest resting temperature, slightly increasing after ovulation due to the progesterone hormone. By measuring BBT every morning before any activity and recording it on a chart or app, women can identify the slight temperature shift indicating ovulation. It’s important to note that while this method can confirm that ovulation has taken place, it doesn’t predict when it will happen. Therefore, combining BBT tracking with cervical mucus monitoring can give a more precise picture of the fertile window.
Moreover, checking the position and feel of the cervix can also be integrated into fertility tracking. The cervix changes position, texture, and openness throughout the menstrual cycle. Around ovulation, it usually becomes softer, higher, and more open. These changes can be observed by gently checking the cervix with a finger.
Using fertility monitors or wearables is another method gaining popularity. These devices often combine parameters like skin temperature, resting pulse, and breathing rate to estimate fertility. Some even provide hormone level readings.
Combining these methods is known as the Symptothermal Method. By tracking changes in cervical mucus and basal body temperature and sometimes utilising ovulation tests or monitoring the cervix, the symptothermal method provides a comprehensive approach to fertility awareness. This can be particularly helpful for couples trying to conceive or those using fertility awareness as a form of natural family planning. However, educating oneself properly or seeking guidance from a healthcare provider to effectively use these methods is important.
Impact of Lifestyle and Medications
Lifestyle factors and medications can alter cervical mucus characteristics, making the cervical mucus method less reliable for some women. For instance, antihistamines used to treat allergies can reduce the amount of cervical mucus. Likewise, excessive caffeine and tobacco consumption can affect the quality and quantity of the mucus. It is essential to be aware of these influences and consult a healthcare provider if you’re using cervical mucus tracking for family planning or fertility awareness.
When is cervical mucus a cause of concern?
You must inform your doctor if you see any abnormal changes in the cervical mucus. Any changes that are out of the ordinary might indicate infection or other potential health problems. Here is when you should seek medical help:
- The colour of the discharge is yellow, green, or frothy. This might indicate a bacterial or fungal infection in the vagina that needs immediate medical attention
- The mucus has a fishy or foul odour
- There are any visible signs of infection around the vagina, such as a rash or reddening
- If you have pain during sexual intercourse or a burning sensation in and around the vagina
- If you have a fever or abdominal cramps that won’t go after a couple of days
If you see a bloody discharge after your periods in the middle of the cycle, make an appointment with your OBGYN to check yourself. Seeing your doctor within a day of experiencing any abnormal discharge is crucial.
Many women might find it difficult to stick to this method of predicting ovulation. The good news is that it is certainly not the only method to track and indicate when you ovulate.
Ovulation prediction kits
One of the easiest methods is using ovulation prediction kits (OPKs) from Fertility2Family. These testing kits are an accurate, inexpensive, and convenient way of predicting ovulation and hence your fertility window with much higher accuracy than the mucus method. You can learn more about how to use these ovulation tests by following our Ovulation Test Strip Instructions.
The Fertility2Family OPKs are laboratory tested for accuracy and consistency. They work by detecting LH in your urine. As you approach your ovulation, an LH surge occurs, and the excess is excreted into the urine that the OPKs can easily detect.
At Fertility2Family, we believe in empowering individuals with knowledge and tools to navigate their fertility journey. Our comprehensive blog offers a wealth of information on topics such as understanding cervical mucus changes during ovulation, a key indicator of fertility. To complement this knowledge, we provide reliable ovulation prediction kits to help you accurately track your ovulation. These kits and our informative content serve as a supportive guide, aiding you in making informed decisions on your path to parenthood.
Evan is the founder of Fertility2Family and is passionate about fertility education & providing affordable products to help people in their fertility journey. Evan is a qualified enrolled nurse and has expertise in guiding & managing patients through their fertility journeys.