How much do you know about your menstrual cycle? Did you know that throughout the menstrual cycle, your body changes in accordance with the fluctuation of hormones present in your body? Due to these changes, women are only able to conceive roughly 5-7 days out of every cycle. One of the most obvious changes that identifies this fertile window is cervical mucus. Observing your cervical mucus is the most invaluable way of deciphering if you are fertile, or not, on that day… Making this an essential tool if you are trying to conceive!!!
Let’s dive deep into cervical mucus, so you can learn what is it and how you can track it alongside your BBT chart to increase your chances of conceiving sooner.
What is cervical mucus?
Cervical mucus refers to the fluid produced by the crypt cells of the cervix during the menstrual cycle. Changes to the cervical mucus occur in response to our hormones, specifically the increased quantity of estrogen in your blood. As the body prepares for ovulation, your estrogen levels rise until the surge of luteinizing hormone (LH) signals for the egg to be released. Relative to this rise of estrogen, the quantity of cervical mucus builds. We are able to observe these changes as it passes out of the cervix through the vagina. Cervical mucus has similar properties to semen. Its function is to support and nourish sperm, allowing it to survive in the usually hostile vagina for up to 5-7 days. It also transports the sperm towards the fallopian tube where conception occurs.
How your cervical mucus changes during each cycle:
At the beginning of your cycle and after ovulation, when you are not fertile, cervical mucus is dry, scant or sticky making it impossible for sperm to penetrate or survive. During the non-fertile times, the vagina is quite hostile towards sperm as it is very acidic. This thick cervical mucus provides a barrier to prevent bacteria and sperm from entering the uterus.
As ovulation approaches, estrogen levels increase stimulating the uterus to open and cervical mucus to be produced. This is the key indication that you are within your fertile-window. This cervical mucus is thin, stretchy, watery and alkaline (the most fertile mucus is best described as resembling raw egg white).
There is a range of cervical mucus and every woman is different. However, to give you an idea of what you might see in a typical menstrual cycle might look:
- During your menstrual bleed it is almost impossible to tell the difference between your period and cervical mucus. Whilst it is not common, some women may ovulate as during their bleeding days… BBT charting very important to confirm exactly when you ovulated.
- Just after menstruation, cervical fluid starts out scant and dry.
- When your estrogen levels begin to rise as your body prepares for ovulation the cervical mucus becomes sticky or pasty, or creamy. This can occur a few days prior to ovulation.
- Watery and egg white fluid is observed when you are most fertile around ovulation.
- Ovulation usually occurs around the last day that fertile quality cervical fluid is observed. This is often called the “peak” day and can only be observed retrospectively (i.e. the day after “peak” when you observe a “dry” cervical mucus pattern again).
- After ovulation, cervical fluid is again scant and dry.
How to track your cervical mucus:
- When you go to the bathroom, prior to “going”, fold the toilet paper flat and wipe from the vulva to the end of perineum (front to back). Pay attention to the sensation you feel as you wipe (does it feel dry, smooth, lubricative/slippery?)
- Look at the toilet paper. When examining your cervical fluid ask yourself: do you see any mucus? Can you pick it up? Does it stretch? What colour is it (white/creamy/clear/shinny)? What texture is it (lotion like/clumpy/ smooth)? and what is its consistency (thick or thin)?
- Once you have done this you can then use the bathroom.
- After you urinate or have a bowel movement you must check again. First, dab or clean yourself off, and then make sure to take a fresh flat piece of toilet paper and repeat the steps above. This is because the pressure can sometimes push out more cervical mucus that we would otherwise miss… meaning you might be in your fertile window and miss a great opportunity to make a baby!
- The most common observations (in order of least to most fertile) are “dry”, “sticky”, “creamy”, “watery” or “egg white”. Please note if there is any mucus (any at all) you must consider yourself within your fertile-window.
- You should check your cervical fluid many times a day (each time you go to the bathroom I find is easiest) and always record the most fertile type you see for that day.
Apps for charting your cervical mucus:
There are lots of apps you can use to record your cervical mucus but the best in, my opinion, is Fertility Friend……and it’s FREE!!! It can take a little bit of time to get used to, but it is a fantastic tool that makes charting a breeze!
The more you can learn about your cycle the more you can understand about your fertility health. Knowledge is power… and I feel it is such a shame we are not taught about our own fertility health and how to monitor it as young teenagers when our cycles begin. My recommendation is to work with a natural fertility expert to really learn about and get in-tune with your body, your cycle and your fertility. Learn more about our IVF Support Program or Natural Fertility Support Program here.
~ Philippa Dunstan
Philippa is our incredible receptionist at Spring Acupuncture and is currently studying her Bachelor of Heath Science (Acupuncture). Philippa has special interest in female health, fertility, pregnancy and children’s health. She is passionate about sharing knowledge and empowering women in the understanding their bodies throughout all stages of life. Philippa strongly believes acupuncture enables us to listen to our bodies, take time for ourselves, and optimise our bodies innate ability to restore health and well-being.
Spring Acupuncture is an integrative Chinese medicine and acupuncture clinic committed to providing the best outcomes for our patients, and empowering them along their journey to optimal fertility, pregnancy health, IVF success and general wellness. We are located in Springwood, Brisbane, and are conveniently situated right next door to The Fertility Centre, IVF clinic.
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