Cervical Mucus During Ovulation: Look, Feel, Consistency
Cervical mucus is one of the key biological indicators of ovulation, and taking note of how it changes throughout each stage of your menstrual cycle can be a great tool for family planning.
In this article, we’ll cover everything you need to know about your cervical mucus including how it changes, how to track it, and its relevance for couples who are TTC or TTA.
What is cervical mucus?
Cervical mucus is a type of fluid secreted by the cervix, commonly referred to as “discharge”. Due to fluctuating hormone levels, the texture, consistency, and volume of cervical mucus changes throughout a woman’s menstrual cycle.
Around ovulation, it is common for cervical mucus to increase in volume, while also having the distinct look and feel of raw egg whites. This is why many women who are TTC keep track of their changes in cervical mucus, as it enables them to naturally predict ovulation.
What to expect from your discharge
Discharge before your period
Before your period, discharge is typically white or milky white in color. Often referred to as leukorrhea, this type of discharge can have a cloudy appearance and feel sticky to the touch. In terms of volume, it will be much lower compared to the time around ovulation, and some days you may not experience any discharge at all.
Discharge after your period
In the days immediately following your period, you are not likely to experience any discharge. If you do, it may be white in color and light in volume – similar to the type of discharge commonly found before your period.
Discharge before ovulation
In the 4-5 days leading up to ovulation, you may notice that your body produces more discharge. During this time, it’s common for discharge to appear yellow, white, or cloudy white in color. It may also feel stickier than normal. This type of discharge is a sign that a developing egg in your ovaries is ripening and preparing for release through ovulation.
Discharge during ovulation
Your body will release the most discharge right before ovulation and during ovulation. This type of discharge is stretchy, slippery, and clear – hence why many often describe it as having the texture of raw egg whites. During this time, discharge is designed to help facilitate pregnancy by protecting sperm and helping it reach the egg for fertilization.
Discharge after ovulation
When ovulation is over, it’s normal for discharge to be much lighter in volume compared to during ovulation. You may also notice that it becomes gradually cloudier and stickier, before stopping altogether for a few days. Before you know it, it will be time for your period and the cycle will start again!
Discharge if you’re pregnant
In general, it is common to experience more discharge during pregnancy. This is due in large part to fluctuating hormones – particularly increasing estrogen levels. Some women do experience an increase in discharge or “leukorrhea” within the first two weeks of conception. However, this symptom alone isn’t always an early sign of pregnancy.
As discharge gradually increases throughout pregnancy, it also helps to build up the mucus plug. A mucus plug is simply a collection of mucus that helps to protect the uterus (and developing baby) from unwanted infection. The mucus plug is eventually released through the vagina prior to labor, and when this occurs, it can have the appearance of heavy discharge.
It’s also important to mention that some women do experience implantation bleeding in the very early days of pregnancy. This discharge can look like brown or pink spotting, and many women may mistake it for their period. An estimated 30% of women also experience implantation cramping during this time alongside spotting.
Cervical mucus monitoring 101
Should you track your vaginal discharge?
Whether you are TTC or TTA, it doesn’t hurt to have a general awareness of what your vaginal discharge is telling you. For example, gray, yellow, or green discharge may be a sign of infection, while clear, stretchy discharge may be a sign that you are fertile.
While you may not need to track your discharge every single day (unless you are actively trying to predict ovulation when TTC or TTA), it’s still beneficial to know what your discharge means so that you can make good choices for your personal health.
How to monitor your cervical mucus
There are several research-backed methods for monitoring your cervical mucus throughout your cycle. Here’s a brief overview of three of the most common methods including the Creighton Method, the Billings Ovulation Method, and the 2-Day Method.
The Creighton Method (sometimes abbreviated to ‘CrMS’) was developed off the back of 30 years of scientific research. When following this model, women are taught by a certified Creighton Model consultant how to observe, track, and chart their cervical mucus throughout their cycle. The consultant can then use this information to provide advice on fertility and/or reproductive health issues.
For those who are TTA, the Creighton Model is 98.7-99.5% effective at preventing pregnancy with perfect use and 83-97% effective with typical use. This is similar to the effectiveness of hormonal contraceptives.
For those who are TTC, the Creighton Model can also be helpful. In fact, one study of 50 couples found that 49 (98%) became pregnant within six cycles of using the Creighton Method, with 28 (76%) of pregnancies occurring in the first cycle.
Billings Ovulation Method
The Billings Ovulation Method is similar to the Creighton Method in that it only tracks cervical mucus and it requires an instructor.
However, unlike the Creighton Method which requires physical touching and finger testing of cervical mucus, the Billings Ovulation Method encourages women to focus more on the “sensation” of the mucus at the vagina and how it feels. For example, feelings of dryness, wetness, and slipperiness are all sensations that women are encouraged to record when following this method.
For those who are TTA, the Billings Ovulation Method is 98.9% effective at preventing pregnancy with perfect use and 89.5% effective with typical use.
The Billings Method is also helpful for those TTC, with one study finding that 62.5% of couples achieved pregnancy within 2 years after following the Billings Method.
Another way to monitor cervical mucus is by following the 2-Day Method. Unlike the Creighton Method or the Billings Ovulation Method, the 2-Day Method does not require you to observe and record specific features of your cervical mucus. Instead, all you have to keep track of is whether or not you have had any cervical mucus at all.
At the end of each day, you must ask yourself two questions:
- Did I have any cervical mucus today?
- Did I have any cervical mucus yesterday?
If you answer yes to one or both of those questions, then you are considered fertile and your chances of pregnancy are high. If you answer no to both questions, then you are not considered fertile and your chances of pregnancy are much lower.
According to research, the 2-Day Method is approximately 96% effective at preventing pregnancy when followed correctly and 86% effective with typical use.
Cervical mucus FAQs
What does cervical mucus do?
Cervical mucus plays a key role in helping couples become pregnant. In fact, it has three key functions including:
*Admitting the sperm into the vagina.
*Filtering out abnormal sperm.
*Nurturing and supporting sperm as it prepares for fertilization.
Is there a bad type of discharge?
Yes. There are certain types of discharge that may indicate an underlying problem.
For example, gray discharge is a key sign of bacterial vaginosis (also known as BV). Alternatively, yellow or green discharge can be a sign of trichomoniasis, chlamydia, gonorrhea, or pelvic inflammatory disease (PID). Even though white discharge is considered normal, if it appears in large amounts, this could be an indicator of a yeast infection (also known as Vaginal Candidiasis).
In addition to the color and quantity of discharge, it’s also important to be mindful of other symptoms commonly associated with infection. This includes:
*Low abdomen or pelvic pain
*Itching, burning, and/or redness around the vagina
*Fever and chills
If you are experiencing any of the above symptoms alongside yellow, green, or gray discharge, you should speak with your doctor immediately as this could be a sign of a serious infection or STI. Your doctor can then further assess your situation and offer appropriate treatment.
Can cervical mucus determine if you’re pregnant?
Even though many women do experience light spotting or a slight increase in discharge in the very early days of their pregnancy, this symptom alone is not enough to confirm pregnancy.
Instead, The American Pregnancy Association lists the following as the most common early signs that you are pregnant:
*Nausea and/or vomiting
*Increased need to urinate
*Sleepiness and fatigue
The earliest you can take a pregnancy test is at least one day after your estimated missed period. Even though this wait can feel like forever, this is the best way to avoid the frustration and disappointment that comes with false-negative and false-positive results.