There a variety of ways to determine when your body is most likely to conceive. One of the easiest ways is through some telltale signs the cervical mucus that your body naturally produces. Jacqueline Vinyard, M.Sc. of Prima Temp lets us in on how to check your cervical mucus and understand the signs that indicate when you are most fertile.
By Jacqueline Vinyard, M.Sc.
Knowing when you have fertile cervical mucus (CM) can help you get pregnant. You may have not paid much attention to the mysterious “discharge” on your underwear in the past, or thought it was annoying, but CM is actually an essential part of conception. CM is vital to achieving pregnancy because it protects sperm from the acidity of the vagina, filters out abnormal sperm, and nourishes and houses sperm. By charting your cervical mucus, you can learn to pinpoint when you’re most fertile and improve your chances of getting pregnant.
Fertile cervical mucus isn’t the same for everyone. In general, the most fertile CM is classified as being like ‘egg-white’ or ‘watery’ in characteristic. Your fertile CM, however, may be stretchy and clear or thick and creamy or watery. To identify your individual type of fertile CM, you’ll need to track your cervical mucus daily to help you recognize your individual pattern of CM. Once you’re familiar with your personal cervical mucus, you’ll be able to differentiate when it’s go-time for baby-making.
In this post, we will teach you how to check your CM and how to tell when your CM is fertile and when it is not. We bet you will be amazed at how much better you understand your body after charting your cervical mucus for a few cycles.
How do I track cervical mucus to find my fertile window?
You’ll need to check and record your CM daily, but don’t worry, it is quick and free! Choose a method that works for you to record the changes you see. You can go old-school by using a paper calendar, or download a fertility tracking app to monitor the characteristics of your CM every day.
There are three ways to check your CM:
- Before you pee, insert your (clean!) fingers into your vagina.
- Tear off a square of white toilet paper before you pee and dab at the opening of your vagina.
- Check CM on your underwear. This method may not work for you if you’re just starting out or if you don’t have a lot of CM.
Whichever method you use to collect cervical miucus, check the color, consistency, and feel of the CM. Rub your fingers together. Is it sticky like dried rubber cement? Is it slick like egg whites? Stretch it between your index finger and thumb. How far does it stretch before it breaks apart?
What are the types of CM when I’m fertile and infertile?
Your CM changes in color, amount, and consistency, depending on where you are in your menstrual cycle. When you’re not fertile, CM can become dry and “hostile” to sperm. When you are fertile, CM morphs into a liquid freeway for sperm, nourishing and protecting them on their journey to the egg. Without fertile CM, sperm may not make it to the egg.
After you’ve inspected your CM, label the characteristics you see and log them every day. Look for these types of changes in quality and quantity of cervical mucus throughout your cycle:
- Menstruation: During this time, menstruation masks the presence of CM, so no need to check for CM while you’re on your period.
- None: After your period ends, you may have a few dry* days without any CM.
- Sticky: Sticky CM is tacky and may be yellow-ish or white. It won’t stretch much and may remind you of dried rubber cement. While this isn’t classified as fertile CM, sperm may be able to survive long enough for the fertile CM to be produced.
- Creamy: At this point, your estrogen level rises as your body gets ready to ovulate. With this rising tide of estrogen, the water content of your CM may increase, and your CM may feel more moist than before.
- Egg white: Egg white CM resembles raw egg whites. It’s clear and slippery and often can stretch an inch or more when you spread it between your finger and thumb. This fertile fluid may keep sperm alive for up to five days inside your body.
- Watery: Sometimes the water content of your CM will be so high that the fertile CM is more like water: it’s clear, slippery, and doesn’t hold its shape at all. With this type of CM, you may feel a super wet sensation in your vagina. You may experience a gushing sensation that feels like you’ve started your period. The wetness is a sign of very fertile CM.
*The word dry might be a little misleading because your vagina is a mucous membrane and will not normally be dry. What we mean by dry is that CM is not present.
Now, it’s worth noting that the changes we described are general guidelines for CM. These changes may show up differently for you, and you may not see all types of CM. You may have lots of fertile CM one cycle and only sticky CM in another cycle. That’s why tracking your CM every day is so important. After a few cycles, you will see patterns emerge unique to your own cycle.
To get pregnant, have sex during your fertile Cervival Mucus phase
Tracking the changes in your CM may help you identify when ovulation is close—in other words, it helps you identify your fertile window, which is generally the day you ovulate plus the five days before that. Nearly all pregnancies occur in these six days.
Seeing fertile CM means you’re at your most fertile—so have sex pronto. Ideally, have sex every day or every other day until you’ve ovulated. Multiple studies show that your best chance of pregnancy is when you have sex when you see fertile CM and you’re near ovulation.
After ovulation, your CM will likely go back to a dry or sticky texture. Once this happens, you will likely need to wait until your next cycle to have another opportunity to get pregnant.
If you’re new to the world of CM, give yourself time to understand its tell-tale changes, as it transforms from drier to wetter during your cycle. With practice, you’ll become a pro at sussing out when you’re fertile.
Your newfound knowledge may lead you one step closer to the ultimate destination—a baby! In the meantime, you can feel confident in knowing you’re doing your utmost to make natural pregnancy a real possibility.
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For information on cervical mucus, ovulation, and finding your fertile window, read here.