How to Gauge Your Cervical Mucus To Determine When You Are Most Fertile
If you are considering purchasing ovulation kits or taking your daily basal body temperature to help determine when you are most fertile you can also consider tracking your body’s natural way of indicating fertility—your cervical mucus.
Your cervix is the passage that connects your uterus to your vagina. This passageway is not a direct route to your uterus and is filled with many nooks and crannies where your cervical mucus (CM) is produced. Throughout the month the consistence of your CM will change in response to where you are in your menstrual cycle. A good portion of the month your CM works to protect your uterus from foreign bodies by keeping the cervical canal closed and creating a thick mucus making it difficult for sperm to enter your cervical canal. However when become fertile your CM will change in consistence to not only allow sperm to enter your cervical canal, extend the life of sperm, and weed out irregular sperm.
For a sperm to fertilise an egg it has to swim through your cervical opening, past your uterus and into your fallopian tubes. When you are fertile your CM will aid in this process and allow sperm to live in your fallopian tubes for up to 5 full days. If you learn to recognise when your cervical mucus changes in consistency to indicate that your body is getting ready to ovulate you can time your intercourse accordingly.
Types of Cervical Mucus
For the 2-3 days prior to ovulation your cervical mucus will go from its usual thick and sticky consistency to a thinner and clearer consistency that is conducive to sperm successfully travelling the distance to your fallopian tubes. During your menstrual cycle your CM will be in one of three stages. Learning to properly identify these stages will assist you in determining your fertility:
Pre-ovulatory mucus is the type of mucus that is present in the days leading up to ovulation, which is when an egg is released from the ovary and can be fertilised by sperm. This type of mucus is thin and clear, and has a stretchy, elastic quality similar to that of egg whites. This consistency is ideal for sperm to easily swim through the cervix and into the uterus towards the waiting egg.
Post-ovulatory Mucus—This stage is characterised by a decrease in cervical mucus production and is the least fertile stage. Your CM will become thick and sticky again and will eventually lead to your menstrual cycle starting over.
By tracking changes in the consistency and amount of cervical mucus, women can better understand their fertility and timing of ovulation in order to maximise their chances of conceiving.
How Do You Check Your Cervical Mucus?
To check your cervical mucus, you can insert a clean finger into your vagina and gently collect a sample of the mucus. Then, you can observe the color, consistency, and elasticity of the mucus. You can also use a piece of toilet paper to wipe the opening of your vagina to check for any discharge. Another method is to wear a panty liner to monitor the amount of mucus produced throughout the day.
It is important to track your cervical mucus for a few cycles to understand your body’s patterns and to identify when you are most fertile. You can use a fertility tracking app or a fertility chart to record your observations.
In addition to tracking cervical mucus, you can also monitor your basal body temperature and look out for other signs of ovulation such as breast tenderness and increased sex drive.
You should be aware that changes in your mucus may also be a result of an infection. If you notice anything different from what is usual for you or if a strong smell is present, you should consult your doctor or local health clinic for advice.
By understanding how to properly check your cervical mucus and recognising the different stages, you can better predict when you are most fertile and plan for pregnancy accordingly. Understanding your menstrual cycle and fertility can help you make informed decisions about family planning and improve your chances of conceiving.
Photo by Anthony Cunningham for Zoom Baby
This post first appeared in 2018. It was last updated in June 2023.