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Cervical Mucus, Ovulation and Your Fertile Period
Most women are aware of the presence of cervical mucus from their teen years or perhaps later, when they may question what all this mucus is about?! Yet as we approach our reproductive years, mucus is most definitely worth becoming more acquainted with and more appreciated.
Observing your cervical mucus can be more useful than you may think. If you want to aid or avoid conception, cervical mucus observations are said to be around 98.5% accurate as to the fertile and infertile times in your monthly cycle.
The word ‘mucus’ might make you cringe, but knowing the different states of your mucus and what it means can be a strong indicator for ovulation, infertile times and fertile times.
Firstly, it’s important to note that there are some situations in which your mucus may be effected by external factors, including:
- Breastfeeding (while lactation is suppressing ovulation, it can result in dryness)
- Medications or drugs (inc. Clomid)
- If you may be pre-menopausal
- Dieting, weight change or fasting
How Do You Observe Cervical Mucus?
There are three ways you can do this, depending on what you are most comfortable with.
- Toilet Paper – By observing mucus found after wiping
- Externally – With your fingers, feeling for mucus around the opening of your vagina
- Internally – Checking mucus from the cervix by inserting two fingers (index and third finger) into your vagina and gently sweeping the cervix
Once you have some mucus on your fingers, between your thumb and index finger, press them together and stretch the mucus – take note of what the mucus does. Does it stretch? Does it stay in shape and is tacky? Is it slippery? Is it clear, yellow or cloudy?
Types Of Cervical Mucus
Just as every woman’s cycle is different, so too is her mucus pattern. This may be due to varying cycle lengths and stages or other factors effecting it’s production as above mentioned. Below is a fairly common cycle of mucus production, starting with the end of your period.
Infertile Cervical Mucus
After your period, you may find that you have a few days with no mucus (dry). Any mucus that is seen at this time is infertile. If you do find mucus, it will likely be sticky and may come out as a blob.
Words women use to describe their infertile mucus at this time include:
Infertile mucus feels more dry to touch than fertile mucus. It may be yellow, white or opaque. Upon observation by touch between your thumb and index finger, you will find that it does not stretch or move – it is quite thick.
Possibly Infertile or Slightly Fertile Cervical Mucus
Following infertile mucus, you may then experience possibly infertile or slightly fertile mucus. Mucus in this state responds to increasing levels of oestrogen and is usually sticky and may feel damp. There is only a slight chance of conception – sperm will find this form of mucus particularly hard to swim through.
Words women use to describe their infertile mucus at this time include:
Possibly Infertile or Slightly Fertile mucus still feels more dry to touch than fertile mucus. It may be yellow, white or opaque. Upon observation by touch between your thumb and index finger, you will find that it does not stretch or move much but it may be damper or in more quantity.
Fertile Cervical Mucus
Fertile mucus usually signals the impending arrival of ovulation and if you are hoping to avoid conception, you must avoid unprotected intercourse at this time. Your mucus may change to a more watery state and feel more slippery. You may find this mucus is more abundant than the previous forms of mucus.
Words women use to describe their fertile mucus include:
Fertile mucus feels wet and slippery compared to infertile mucus. It’s likely to be clear mucus or have a cloudy/white colour to it. Fertile mucus will even smell sweeter (and apparently taste sweeter) than less fertile mucus which may have a more vinegar scent, however the most important observation to make is the wetness/slippery observation.
Highly Fertile Cervical Mucus
This time is the most likely time to find what is commonly known as EWCM (egg-white cervical mucus) or spinn (short for spinnbarkeit which is german for spiderweb). EWCM is ‘stringy’ hence coming from the word spiderweb. It may appear as a glob, or in smaller amounts in more watery mucus. Not all women experience this form of mucus so don’t be alarmed if you don’t notice any EWCM. Some women swear by Evening Primrose Oil to increase their levels of EWCM, however see a naturopath and they can suggest an appropriate dosage for you. If you were to stretch EWCM between your thumb and index finger, you may notice it stretches, unlike the infertile mucus which keeps it’s shape. You can see why this form of mucus favours sperm – it has a consistency similar to sperm and creates an ideal environment for them to reach the egg.
For a more detailed article on ovulation, check out Ovulation Signs & Symptoms.
Post Ovulation Cervical Mucus
Following ovulation, you may find that the mucus may quickly return to the thick, tacky mucus or you may have none at all, leading up to your period. Some women experience a glob of mucus prior to getting their period, which is infertile.
Recording Cervical Mucus Observations
There are so many benefits to keeping an actual record of mucus, especially when you are starting out. You will quickly notice the unique pattern for you and will no doubt learn to tell when you are most likely to be ovulating, infertile or fertile. Observations will become easier, like habit, and when putting together mucus information with other charting observations (see the article on Charting for Conception), you will have an even better idea on when you are more likely to aid or avoid conception.
Plenty of BellyBelly members, including myself, swear by mucus observations and find it to be very empowering. Our body can be like one great big unknown, but gaining such a huge insight to something so simple may be very rewarding indeed.
Recommended Reading For All Things Fertility
Below are some books I recommend for those wanting to know more about or taking control of their own fertility. Many of these books also rate very highly with BellyBelly forum members.
For any woman unhappy with her current method of birth control; demoralised by her quest to have a baby; or experiencing confusing symptoms in her cycle, this book provides answers to all these questions, plus amazing insights into a woman’s body. Weschler thoroughly explains the empowering Fertility Awareness Method, which in only a couple minutes a day allows a woman to:
- Enjoy highly effective, scientifically proven birth control without chemicals or devices
- Maximize her chances of conception or expedite fertility treatment by identifying impediments to conception
- Increase the likelihood of choosing the gender of her baby
- Gain control of her sexual and gynaecological health
“Having a baby is one of the biggest life-decisions that a couple can make together. Plan to Get Pregnant tells you what you need to do to maximize your chances of conception, and breaks the process down into 10 manageable steps. It not only talks you though getting pregnant, but it also offers guidance on how to stay pregnant, especially through the, often difficult, first trimester. From how to know when you’re both ready to become parents and what to eat for maximum fertility, to embarking on IVF treatment and beyond, this book is a must-read for anyone who wants to start a family.”
Zita West has numerous fertility books and I highly recommend her work. Other books from Zita West include:
- Zita West’s Guide To Getting Pregnant
- Fertility and Conception: A Complete Guide to Getting Pregnant
- Zita West’s Guide to Fertility and Assisted Conception
Many women have problems with their fertility at some time in their lives. Solutions and preventative advice here will contribute to womens well-being, and help to overcome problems with contraception, infertility, reproductive and hormonal health. Includes:
- The natural approach
- The unnatural approach
- Cervical mucus changes
- Basal body temperature changes
- Rhythm calculations
- The lunar cycle
- Synchronising cycles
- Sexual expression in fertile times
- Charting and co-ordinating the methods for contraception
- Natural remedies for hormonal and reproductive health
- Natural, healthy conception
You Can Purchase These Books From…
Connect With Others On The Conception Journey
If you’d like to read others experiences or even contribute your own, please join us in the BellyBelly Forums – we have a section dedicated to conception.
Kelly Winder is a birth attendant (aka doula), the creator of BellyBelly and mum to three beautiful children. Follow Kelly on Google+ and become a fan of BellyBelly on Facebook. BellyBelly is also on Twitter. Please note that all of my suggestions and advice are of a generalised nature only and are not intended to replace advice from a qualified professional. BellyBelly.com.au – The Thinking Woman’s Website For Conception, Pregnancy, Birth and Baby.
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