Cervical mucus (or cervical fluid, if you prefer) may not be something you gave a second thought to before you started fertility charting. Like many women, there may even have been times in the past where, during ovulation, you thought you had some form of infection and even went to see your doctor, only to be prescribed unnecessary anti-biotics. But cervical mucus (CM) is perfectly normal and healthy.
What is Cervical Mucus (CM)?
Well put simply, it's a hydrogel secreted by the cervix. It responds to the changing levels of hormones influencing the cervix as you near, and then verify, Ovulation each cycle. In addition to letting us know where we are in our cycle, cervical mucus makes the vaginal canal sperm-friendly. It nourishes sperm and allows it to survive for long enough to reach the egg. If you are trying to conceive, observing CM is important for helping you to identify the right timing for the "baby dance".
Taking your temperature and charting cervical mucus is essential to using the Sympto-thermal method of fertility awareness. It will let you know in 'real-time' when the fertile window opens and it is a cross-check to confirm Ovulation has actually occurred. Using temperature on its own is not sufficient if you are avoiding pregnancy, as this will only tell you retroactively after you have ovulated.
From the beginning of each new cycle (first day of your period) any presence of CM should be considered as possibly fertile. As soon as any observation is detected, you should consider your fertile window open.
How to Check for Cervical Mucus
Use these steps to help you check your CM:
- Take a folded piece of toilet paper and wipe from front to back across your vulva, wiping all the way across your perineum (the space between your vaginal opening and anus). (CM can also be observed at the Vulva opening or internally using fingers. This method can be confusing for some women just starting out but better for others, especially those with scant CM.)
- As you wipe, feel for the sensation across your perineum. The sensation is one aspect of CM observations, and for some women, this will be the best sign if they produce scant observable mucus. (It's important to remember, the vaginal canal is a mucus membrane, like the inside of your mouth, and will never be fully dry.)
- Once you have determined sensation, take a look at the toilet paper and at your underwear to observe the mucus. (You may want to stretch the mucus between your fingers or with the toilet paper to observe the color, stretch, feel, and quantity.)
- Mark your observations and sensation on your chart at the end of the day, marking your most fertile observation and sensation of that day. (CM can change throughout the day, so even if you are dry all day with the exception of one observation, that one observation is the one you should note on your chart for that day.)
- On your chart, you are looking for a continuum of change for you. Focus on whether your observation today was the same as yesterday or if there was a change.
I personally love the sentiment in TCOYF by Toni Weschler, when she says:
"For those of you who think of yourselves as too squeamish to observe it, all I can say is that once you've checked it a few times, you realize it's really no big deal. And if you are even considering having a baby one day, I can assure you that the world of diapers and infant regurgitation is a thousand times more traumatizing than cervical fluid!"
Cervical Mucus Patterns
From the start of your cycle, look for the pattern of change from dry/none to moist/sticky/creamy and then on to egg white. You can use these tables to help you think about sensation and what you are observing:
|Dry||No sensation of moisture|
|Moist||Dampness or slight moisture|
|Wet||Slippery, watery, or lubricative. May feel like a "water gush" sensation as you are walking around during the day.|
|None||No mucus was observed on the toilet paper or on your underwear|
|Sticky||Slight gummy, crumbly or tacky mucus. White or cloudy in color. (It lacks a true wetness quality to it)|
|Creamy||Opaque, cloudy, lotion-like, milky mucus. Stretches under an inch. Slightly more water content than sticky mucus|
|Egg White||Clear or partly clear, stretches more than an inch, resembles raw egg whites. High water content. Highly watery egg white mucus is heavier and doesn't hold the stretch - it will 'run' on the fingers.|
When you have learned to chart your cervical mucus, you can use this information, alongside your BBT, to identify your Peak day (P), or your most fertile day.
Your Peak day is the last day you observe the most fertile type of mucus, depending on your own pattern this may be egg-white cervical mucus.
In many cases, Ovulation will occur on or very close to peak day. You can use your temp shift to help confirm that Ovulation was successful.
If you are trying to avoid, a count of 3 days of less fertile mucus after peak day (P123 on your chart) and a valid temp shift will help you understand when to close your fertile window and confirm Ovulation has taken place.
You should be aware of other observations that could obscure CM, to find out more visit Tempdrop's user support site.
Cervical mucus is essential to fertility awareness charting and can sometimes be the most challenging part to master. If you have any doubts about your mucus observations, please reach out to a certified fertility awareness educator or turn to more extensive self-teaching resources, such as Tempdrop Academy.