Most women are aware of actually having cervical mucus, but may not be actually aware of what it really is and what purpose it holds in our body.
Well, grab your notebook, (you know, the one with all the ‘I didn’t know it did that!’ notes in it), sit down and get your fancy special ‘note taking’ pen out.
It’s time to learn some interesting facts on mucus, fertility and tracking your cycles.
Now, I’m not going to lie. I squirmed, pulled faces and felt a little eww at times when learning about cervical mucus, even the word ‘mucus’ made me squirm a little (yes, I’m immature, no, I make no apologies).
In saying that though, it is a very important function of the female body, and one that we should all be familiar with. The more we understand what is considered ‘normal’ with our bodies, the more we can possibly identify when things are changing.
Cervical mucus is an important indicator of fertile and infertile times in a woman’s monthly cycle. By becoming familiar with the changes that are occurring within the mucus, you can identify the most fertile times during your monthly cycle which is super beneficial for those wanting to conceive. Consider it as a traffic light system for sperm, it indicates whether it’s go time for fertility as an indicator and can even act as a barrier to sperm in some instances.
Cervical mucus is excreted from glands in a cervix when stimulated by the hormone oestrogen. As well as aiding in contraception, the mucus also protects the uterus from bacteria and other foreign matter.
Cervical mucus in the fertile stage of the cycle can keep sperm alive for up to 3 days, protect the sperm from acidity within the vagina, and transport the sperm toward the outer third wall in the fallopian tube for fertilisation.
How do I observe cervical mucus?
You can do this in a variety of ways, once you decide on the method you’re most comfortable with, it will be a lot easier to monitor.
The different ways of observing the mucus can include:
You can observe the mucus after wiping. After most of the fluids have been absorbed by the tissue, the mucus will remain on top.
You may only need to feel around the opening of your vagina to locate mucus.
Using clean finger/s, insert into the vagina and gently sweep the cervix.
There are various factors which may impact on your cervical mucus to keep in mind when observing.
If you’re stressed, breastfeeding, on medication, ill, pre-menopausal, travelling or going through weight change (dieting or fasting), your mucus may be affected.
What am I actually looking at?
You have your sample and now it’s time to really take notice of several thing: consistency, colour, moisture content and texture.
Once you have your mucus sample on your fingers, press together (using a finger and thumb works best) and slowly move apart again. You will be able to determine the likelihood of ovulation just by doing this.
What is your cervical mucus telling you about fertility?
1. Infertile mucus
If the secretion is sticky or not much there, even dry, you’re probably not ovulating yet, or have recently finished ovulating.
2. Slightly fertile phase / possibly infertile mucus
If what you have found is creamy, thick, pasty or cloudy, there is a chance that ovulation is coming but has not happened yet. When pulling your fingers apart, the mucus will not stretch or move much at all and will generally hold its shape. As the mucus is still thick, sperm will find it difficult to swim through.
3. Fertile Phase
The cervical mucus is more wet, watery and slightly stretchy and often more abundant than in previous phases. The mucus could be described as being similar to an egg white in appearance. On the finger test, the mucus is stretchy (as ovulation comes closer, it becomes stretchier) as fingers are moved apart. Being a thinner consistency, the sperm will be able to move through easier.
4. Peak fertile stage: Ovulation
It’s prime baby making time! The cervical mucus is verywet and stretches between your fingers for 3 cm or more, ovulation is right around the corner and now is the peak time for conceiving.
So with ongoing observations and becoming more familiar with your body and its processes, you will be able to map your most fertile times within your cycle.
The body is an amazing thing and with the right knowledge we can learn to benefit from the messages we are being sent.