What is cervical mucus?
The cervical mucus is produced by the cervix and changes consistency throughout your menstrual cycle based on hormones associated with ovulation. Shortly after the menstrual period ends, the cervical mucus is dry and prevents sperm from penetrating the cervix but around the time of ovulation it becomes thin, has egg-white consistency and is penetrable by sperms.
CM or cervical mucus regulates fertility and its physical properties change during the menstrual cycle.
Cervical mucus (CM) is produced by glands in the cervix, the entrance to the uterus.
CM accepts, filters, prepares, and releases sperm (capacitation) for successful transport to the inside of the uterus, then, on to the fallopian tubes and the egg and fertilization.
The best time for sperm transport through the cervical mucus is during the period shortly before, during, and after ovulation, when mucus is thin and stretchy (less viscoelastic).
Sperm also can, however, penetrate the thicker mucus that occurs before ovulation.
Changes in cervical mucus
Cervical mucus changes are common throughout the natural menstrual cycle that women experience each month. For women who are trying to conceive, the changes in cervical mucus can play a factor in choosing just the right time for lovemaking.
About a week before ovulation, under the influence of estrogen, cervical mucus becomes abundant, sticky, and thick. Cervical mucus throughout the menstrual cycle based on 28-Day Cycle and in relation to ovulation:
Cervical Mucus Throughout the Menstrual Cycle
|Day in cycle (approximate)||Consistency|
|Days 1-5||Menses; menstrual period; bleeding|
|Days 6-9||Dry; little or no cervical mucus|
|Days 10-12||Sticky thick mucus, becoming less thick and whiter|
|Days 13-15 (most fertile time)||Egg-white or "spinnbarkeit" mucus: thin, elastic, slippery; stretchy, clear|
|Days 16-21||Sticky thick cervical mucus|
|Days 22-28||Dry cervical mucus
There are no significant changes in the cervical mucus which can tell you before a missed period reliably enough whether you are pregnant or not.
Several days before and during ovulation, you'll have a lot of elastic, stretchy mucus, called "spinnbarkeit," that's clear and slippery and has the consistency of raw egg white.
You're in your most fertile time when the mucus has this "egg white" consistency, which allows spermatozoa to pass easily from the vagina into the uterus. After ovulation, if you haven't conceived, the cervical mucus again becomes dry until your menses begins.
How to check your cervical mucus
To check your cervical mucus, first wash and dry your hands, then place one or two fingers, usually your index and middle fingers, into your vagina and touch your cervix at the end of the vagina. You can do this either lying down with both knees bent, or standing with one foot on a chair, bed or toilet seat. Gently touch your cervix and remove your finger. Then place your thumb onto the drop of mucus and pull the fingers gently apart. Before and after ovulation, mucus usually breaks up when the fingers are less than one-half inch apart, while during ovulation you should be able to pull the mucus apart several inches.
Although checking your mucus may help you determine your fertile days, it's not a foolproof way to tell whether you're ovulating. For example, certain medications, such as Clomid, can potentially change the consistency of your mucus. Timing your fertile days is probably more helpful if you're trying to conceive and want to have intercourse at the correct times. If you're also using an ovulation prediction test and it comes up positive, you can be pretty sure you're about to ovulate, and you should have sex once a day, independent of the state of your cervical mucus.
Let your doctor know if you think your cervical mucus is too dry during ovulation. There are tests to determine whether the mucus is "good enough" or not, but inadequate cervical mucus is rarely the cause of infertility.
Egg white cervical mucus (EWCM) is a type of cervical fluid that is produced right before ovulation, during a time when you are most fertile.
Cervical mucus is a fluid that is from the cervix. Estrogen helps produce cervical mucus during the first phase of a monthly cycle. Cervical fluid also helps sperm in moving up to the fallopian tube where fertilization takes place and it protect sperm from the acidity of the vagina. Without fertile cervical mucus (or fluid) sperm would die within an hour or so decreasing chances getting pregnant.
Cervical Mucus: Checking Fertility in 12 Steps
Checking your cervix and cervical mucus for fertility changes can help you determine your time of ovulation and improve your chances of getting pregnant.
12 steps to become more familiar with your fertility signs and get pregnant faster
- Set Up a Fertility Temperature Chart. Fertility is something that needs to be watched closely and a fertility chart can help a great deal. The chart should consist of the date, your temperature and a place to record the look of the cervical mucus. The abbreviations used to record the consistency of the mucus include S (sticky), C (creamy), We (Wet), Wa (Watery) and EW (Egg White).
- Wash Hands. Before checking your mucus for fertility, it is important to wash your hands thoroughly. Obtaining a mucus sample requires an internal exam of sorts and cleans hands will ensure no infection from any germs present on the hands.
- Sit or Squat Comfortably. You will need to find a seat similar to the one you use to insert a tampon. or squat. The leg can be propped up to make insertion of the finger into the vagina more comfortable.
- Insert Finger. Once comfortable, reach one finger into the vagina. This finger will need to reach as far into the vagina as possible. The best source of mucus is the cervix which can be felt at the internal end of the vagina.
- Inspect the mucus. Remove the finger from the vagina and examine the cervical mucus. The mucus will be categorized as sticky, wet, watery, creamy and egg white. Each of these categories has a specific meaning in regards to fertility.
- Not Much Mucus. If there is no mucus on your finger or very little mucus, the body is not currently ovulating. Mucus production increases during ovulation.
- Sticky Mucus. If the mucus is sticky, this could mean you are not ovulating at this time. Mark the results on the chart and check again tomorrow.
- Creamy Mucus. Creamy mucus is a good thing. This is a good indicator that you are going to ovulate soon. Keep checking the cervical mucus every day for a change from creamy to watery and wet.
- Wet Mucus. Wet mucus is the first sign of ovulation. If you find that the mucus is wet, ovulation is happening and conception is more likely. Wet mucus will most often also appear watery and could appear similar to egg whites.
- Watery Mucus. As ovulation begins, mucus changes from sticky to watery. Along with the wet nature, the watery mucus means baby making is a priority.
- Egg White Mucus EWCM: BINGO - EWCM is mucus which can be stretched an inch or more between your fingers. EWCM is the perfect fertile mucus which allows sperms to penetrate the cervix and helps fertilization. Egg white mucus that stretches between the fingertips when spread means the mucus is fertile! The longer the stretch holds between the fingers the more fertile the mucus.
- Chart Results. No matter the results, make sure to note them on the chart. After a few months, a pattern will more than likely show up on the chart making it easier to determine the time of ovulation each month. The chart can also help the woman with irregular ovulation patterns to predict fertility. It is important to keep careful records and use the results to plan intercourse.
What is EWCM egg-white cervical mucus
Egg white cervical mucus (EWCM) is a type of cervical fluid that is produced right before ovulation, during a time when you are most fertile. This mucus is called EWCM because it strongly resembles raw egg white in that it is clear or streaked and is very stretchy and can be watery. By placing your clean fingers into your vagina and obtaining a sample you can check for the appearance of EWCM. When a sample of mucus is between your fingers, it may stretch for several inches and should like somewhat like raw egg whites.
Women in their twenties typically have more days of EWCM than woman in their thirties. Although it is not always true, women in their twenties will have around 5 days of EWCM and woman in their thirties may have only 1 or two days with EWCM. Being that this mucus is necessary for conception you should try to increase the amount you have present. This can be done by preventing dehydration and by using supplements like evening primrose oil.
Reading Cervical Mucus
Cervical mucus constantly changes with water intake, food choices, medication usage and douching. In an optimal situation where no major life changes are going on, cervical mucus can be read to provide insight into the time when a woman is most fertile.
Reading cervical mucus can be difficult for some women, but with practice the process becomes easier and easier. Immediately after the end of a menstrual cycle, the vagina will be drier than normal. During this time sperm will have no means of swimming to meet the egg. Thus, it is not the right time to conceive. As the month passes, cervical mucus will change into a thick fluid that breaks when stretched between the fingers. Again, the sperm will not be able to swim in this atmosphere. Right before ovulation, cervical mucus will change to an egg-white consistency that is perfect for swimming sperm. This is the time when conception is most likely to happen.
Cervical mucus and pregnancy diagnosis
Making the diagnosis of pregnancy solely from changes in the cervical mucus is too unreliable. You cannot make a pregnancy diagnosis from cervical changes alone. The typical stretchy and fertile cervical mucus (spinnbarkeit) develops under the influence of estrogen hormones. Estrogen hormones rise just before ovulation and decrease just after ovulation. At that time, CM becomes dry. About 7-10 days after ovulation, estrogen hormones normally rise again, and it is this second rise than can often give the appearance of fertile mucus again. That doesn't mean you are fertile again, because you don't ovulate again. There are no reliable enough changes of the cervical mucus to indicate when implantation or pregnancy has happened.
Ejaculate sperm and cervical mucus
Ejaculate, but not sperm, may interfere with the cervical mucus consistency. Most of the ejaculate is usually absorbed from the vagina within hours after intercourse. Though there are sperm in the cervix even after that time, the sperm are unlikely to interfere with the cervical mucus consistency.
Not enough cervical mucus
One of the major concerns of women who TTC is that they don't have enough cervical mucus. However, cervical mucus is rarely a reason for infertility. In less than 5% of infertile couples there is a problem with the cervical mucus, while over 80% have a problem either with ovulation, sperm, or the fallopian tubes. If you think that you don't have enough cervical mucus, an underlying cause such as anovulation (no ovulation) may be responsible for this, and that cause must be treated first. Trying to improve the mucus when there are other problems won't work. You can also ask your doctor to check you at the time of ovulation to verify your observation. This test is also known as the postcoital test.
Important Facts About Cervical Mucus Changes
Taking over-the-counter and prescription medications can change the consistency of cervical mucus. Fertility drugs may also alter consistency and thus reading cervical mucus in these situations may be more difficult or impossible.
Not enough cervical fluid or mucus
If you are having trouble finding cervical fluid, doing kegel exercises (tensing and relaxing the muscles that control the flow of urine) may help to push cervical fluid to the vaginal opening and make observation easier. Avoid doing kegels within the first half hour or so after intercourse though as this could push the semen and therefore the sperm away from the cervix, which is exactly where you want them to be. Exercise and bowel movements also push cervical fluid to the vaginal opening making observation easier. You may find that the best time to check your cervical fluid is after a bowel movement.
If you do not see fertile cervical fluid externally, you might want to to try checking internally. Use clean fingers with clipped nails and try to "scoop" it close to your cervix. You may actually find that you have some up at your cervix where it really counts. If you still do not see any fertile cervical fluid, your first step is to make sure you are not dehydrated. Drink plenty of water and, unless medically needed, avoid products such as antihistamines that can dry up secretions.
When cervical fluid is scant or absent, it is more important to try to time intercourse for as close to ovulation as possible, since sperm will not be able to survive as long while waiting for the egg to be released.
If you consistently notice that cervical fluid is scant or absent and you have been trying to conceive for a few cycles or more, then this is something to talk to your doctor about. Your charts may help your doctor identify where the issue lies (if there is one) so bring them along. It is best to consult your doctor before trying any kind of remedy to try to increase your cervical fluid.
Not enough cervical mucus after cervical surgery and cone biopsy
Treatments to the cervix for cervical dysplasia and other problems include laser or cryosurgery (freezing), a cone biopsy or conization by cold knife, and LEEP (loop electrical excision procedure). These procedures can affect fertility and decrease your ability to get pregnant because they destroy cervical glands.
Cervical glands produce cervical mucus, which plays a role in fertility by enabling sperm to pass through the cervix. Insufficient or absent cervical mucus can prevent sperm from reaching the inside of the uterus.
A procedure called 'IUI' or intrauterine insemination can improve your chances of getting pregnant. A small catheter is placed through your cervix, bypassing the mucus, and sperm are injected directly into your uterus.