For any couple trying to conceive, it’s important to understand the role of cervical mucus (CM), and how it changes throughout the month and gives us clues about our most fertile days – that three day ‘window’ just before, and after, ovulation.
The role of mucus
Cervical mucus is one of the key ‘helpers’ in forming pathways and protection for sperm to make it through to the egg during ovulation. Not only does the mucus act as a ferry for healthy sperm, it also filters out any ‘abnormal’ sperm cells, and forms a sort of a ‘plug’ which protects the sperm that has made its way in to the cervix.
Both gatekeeper and ferry, your cervical mucus plays one big role in the fertility picture.
Noticing the changes in your cervical mucus throughout the month is also a great way to track your fertile days, as, like every other aspect of your body, it changes depending on where you are in your cycle.
How it changes with your cycle and what to look for
When you’re keeping a fertility diary, it can help to pinpoint what’s ‘normal’ for you and write little notes such as ‘b’ for bleeding, ‘yellow m’, ‘stretchy m’, ‘dry’ or similar. This is a great way to discover what your fertile mucus looks like, and the patterns your body shows each month. Whether you look at your underwear or have to be a bit more investigative (some women don’t expel much mucus), getting to know the texture, colour and consistency of what is normal for you, is one of the key ways to track your fertility.
Keeping track of your mucus is also helpful in noticing when stress may be delaying your ovulation cycle.
When you finish menstruating, (in your ‘pre-fertile’ phase), there may be no noticeable mucus at all, or very small amounts of thick, whitish, flaky or crumbly mucus, or possibly a small amount of thick, sticky, tacky, cloudy white or yellowish mucus, which feels very pasty.
What if I don’t notice anything?
Women’s bodies vary greatly. Some women keep their mucus inside their cervix, so as mentioned above, you may need to actually do a bit of investigation work.
Note: Having intercourse without a condom can mean mucus is difficult to detect because semen is still present.
Cervical mucus can be very clear, slippery and wet just prior to (and during) ovulation. There is usually more of it and it can closely resemble egg white, looking stretchy and see-through or perhaps slightly cloudy. Some women have a small pinkish or blood-stained tinge in their mucus at ovulation (from releasing an egg).
Many women describe their fertile mucus as looking like egg white. Typical fertile mucus is very stretchy. If you put some fertile mucus between your fingers and then move your fingers slowly apart, you may be able to stretch it up to 5 to 10 centimetres (or 2 to 4 inches).
But don’t fret if you don’t notice fertile mucus, this does not mean you’re less fertile or unable to conceive, it is just that your mucus stays well contained within your cervix and uterus to transport the sperm to your egg. If this is the case, you might want to keep a closer track of changes in your cervix.
This article was written by Louisa Deasey.
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Last revised: Tuesday, 18 February 2014
This article contains general information only and is not intended to replace advice from a qualified health professional.