Your Cervical Mucus Can Help You Track Ovulation
Checking your cervical mucus throughout your cycle can be an empowering way to monitor your body’s cycle and help you get pregnant. If you can detect when your cervical mucus is most fertile, you can predict ovulation and time sex to increase your chances of pregnancy. This natural family planning technique requires no extra equipment or lab work.
Cervical Mucus Consistency
As ovulation approaches, your cervical mucus (CM) changes and becomes more “sperm-friendly” or fertile. Right after ovulation, the cervical mucus changes back to the less fertile kind.
While each body is different, cervical mucus generally goes through several stages of consistency:
- Dry or sticky. Not yet ovulating.
- Creamy. Ovulation may be coming.
- Wet. Close to ovulation
- Raw egg white consistency. Ovulation is approaching. This is the best time to have sex, if you want to get pregnant.
How to Check Your Cervical Mucus
Wash and dry your hands well.
Find a comfortable position, either by sitting on the toilet, squatting, or standing up.
Reach one finger inside your vagina; your index or middle finger is probably best (be careful not to scratch yourself). Depending on how much cervical mucus you’re producing, you may not need to reach far, but getting a sample from near your cervix is ideal.
Remove your finger from your vagina and observe the consistency of whatever mucus you find. Do this by looking at the mucus and rolling what you find between two fingers (usually your thumb and index finger).
Also, try pressing your fingers together and then slowly moving them apart.
If the cervical mucus is very wet, stretches between your fingers for an inch or more, and resembles raw egg white, your cervical mucus is very fertile. Ovulation is pending, and it is the ideal time for intercourse.
If you are charting your Basal Body Temperature (BBT), you should mark your mucus findings down on your chart:
- S for sticky
- C for creamy
- W for wet
- EW for egg-white cervical mucus.
If you feel squeamish about doing a self-check, you can check your cervical mucus by looking at the toilet paper or your underwear, but you can usually get a better sample by reaching inside.
Pointers for Examining Your Cervical Mucus
Don’t check your cervical mucus during or right after sex, or when you’re feeling sexually aroused. If you have trouble finding anything, checking your cervical mucus after a bowel movement may be easier.
Some women, especially those with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), have several times during the month where they see “fertile” cervical mucus. If this is the case, predicting ovulation by tracking cervical mucus might not work well, and other monitoring options must be considered.
Some drugs, including antihistamines and, ironically, Clomid, can dry up your cervical mucus. In this case, you might not find as much fertile cervical mucus before ovulation.
If you never or rarely notice wet or egg-white consistency cervical mucus, talk to your doctor. Infertility can sometimes be caused by something referred to as hostile cervical mucus.
Some women produce cervical mucus that is wet or almost egg-white like again right before menstruation. Don’t confuse this with pending ovulation.
A day or two after sexual intercourse, you may confuse semen with wet cervical mucus. With experience, you can learn how to differentiate the two. But for the purposes of getting pregnant, assume that you may be approaching ovulation.
Checking your cervical mucus will help you monitor the stages of your cycle so that you can better time intercourse to achieve pregnancy. It is something you can do at home and is certainly cost-effective. If you have questions, it is always important to check with your doctor to find the right approach for you.
Dr. Alan Copperman is a board-certified reproductive endocrinologist and infertility specialist with a long history of success in treating infertility and applying fertility preservation technologies. He serves as Medical Director of Progyny, a leading fertility benefits management company, and co-founded and serves as Medical Director of RMA of New York, one of the largest and most prestigious IVF centers in the country. Dr. Copperman’ is also the Vice Chairman and Director of Infertility for the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, and Chief Medical Officer of Sema4, a health information company. Dr. Copperman has been named to New York magazine’s list of Best Doctors 17 years in a row. He has been recognized by his peers and patient advocacy organizations for his commitment to patient-focused and data-driven care. He has published more than 100 original manuscripts and book chapters on reproductive medicine and has co-authored over 300 scientific abstracts on infertility, in vitro fertilization, egg freezing, ovum donation, and reproductive genetics.