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Everything You Should Know About Cervical Mucus

calendarApril 04, 2017
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What is cervical mucus (CM) and what does it mean in different parts of the menstrual cycle? What causes mucus to come from the cervix? These are questions that many women ask themselves as they go through their menstrual cycle.

Cervical mucus stages

Secreted by glands around the cervix, cervical mucus protects the uterus from outside contaminants and assists the transport of sperm through the cervix into the uterus. Due to hormonal changes, there are several different types of cervical present during the menstrual cycle. The cervical mucus cycle can be monitored by observing mucus in the vagina.

Types Of Cervical Mucus

Throughout the cervical mucus cycle, you may observe different types of mucus in the vagina. Hormonal fluctuations are the cause of these normal changes in cervical mucus. Through careful monitoring, you may be able to determine which part of your menstrual cycle you are experiencing, and even be able to determine peak fertility.

Depending on time of your menstrual cycle your cervical mucus can be:

  • egg white;
  • sticky;
  • creamy;
  • watery;
  • clear;
  • slippery;
  • thick white.
Time of Menstrual Cycle
Type of Cervical Mucus

After period

White, sticky

Ovulation

Egg white, watery, stretchy

After ovulation

Thick, white

After conception

Increased amount of cervical mucus

During pregnancy

Clear, white


Cervical Mucus Stages

  • What is Fertility? And when are you most fertile?

During ovulation the woman becomes fertile. The fertile period is typically the five days or so during a woman’s cycle in which the woman can get pregnant. During this time, the cervical mucus becomes a clear stretchy discharge that is stringy enough so that the sperm can travel up the cervix, into the uterus and finally into the fallopian tubes where fertilization usually occurs.

Because sperm can remain alive for up to five days prior to ovulation, you are most fertile around days 9-14 of a normal 28-day menstrual cycle. You should use some barrier method of birth control if you do not wish to get pregnant during that cycle. If there is no cervical mucus, it could mean that you didn’t ovulate at all during this cycle and will not get pregnant.

  • Prior to Ovulation

During the first days after the period is over, you may notice a lack of mucus in the vagina and “dryness” of the vagina and vulva. The mucus is general without any odor and the discharge increases as the woman gets closer to the time of ovulation. As time progresses the mucus in the vagina will become white in color and sticky or pasty.

  • Approaching Ovulation

During the time shortly before ovulation, you may notice an increase in discharge. This mucus will be moist and sometimes “creamy”. As the stages of ovulation progress, the woman becomes fertile. It usually involves the five days or so during a woman’s cycle in which the woman can get pregnant. The cervical mucus becomes a clear stretchy discharge that is stringy enough so that the sperm can travel up the cervix, into the uterus and finally into the fallopian tubes where fertilization usually occurs.

  • Ovulation

During this stage of the cervical mucus cycle, mucus in the vagina will be thin and clean, often resembling egg whites. The quantity of cervical mucus will also be the greatest during this time. During this time a woman is most fertile, as sperm are able to travel up the cervix into the uterus and finally into the fallopian tubes where fertilization usually occurs.

  • Ovulation Discharge

Some women may experience discharge during ovulation that is pink or brown. This ovulation fluid represents the time in which the egg has released from the luteal sac and a small amount of bleeding has occurred at the same time as the release of the egg. It is not dangerous and is nothing to be worried about. Signs of ovulation mucus are what men and women use as part of the rhythm method of birth control. They keep tracking cervical mucus and then have sex (or don’t have sex) when the cervical mucus indicates ovulation signs.

  • After ovulation

Post-ovulation, you will become less and less fertile, as the quantity of the cervical mucus decreases and it becomes thicker in consistency. After ovulation, there is usually white thick discharge that is sticky to the touch. It is due to the influence of progesterone on the cervical mucosa and means you cannot get pregnant. Only when you have egg white cervical mucus can you really get pregnant. Sometimes there is thick clear discharge after ovulation and this is normal, too. Other women will get creamy discharge after ovulation that is enough to where they need to wear a panty-liner in order to collect the discharge.

  • Early pregnancy cervical mucus

If you happen to get pregnant during the menstrual cycle, the cervical fluid after conception will be a little bit different. You might get an increased amount of cervical mucus. You may also notice blood-tinge or brown cervical mucus six to nine days after ovulation. This spotting is a sign of implantation. The cervical mucus after ovulation, if you are pregnant, will tend to be increased as you approach your missed period.

The cervical mucus in early pregnancy will be white in color and will be of an increased amount when compared to not being pregnant. There can be heavy clear discharge in early pregnancy, which is one of the earliest signs that you are pregnant. Cervical fluid when pregnant will be the start of a mucus plug inside the cervix that protects the pregnancy from bacteria and other contaminants that can cause harm to the growing fetus. You will continue to get pregnancy discharge throughout the pregnancy but it will not have an odor and will usually not be colored.

As the stages of ovulation progress, the woman becomes fertile. What does fertility mean or what does fertile mean? What does it mean to be fertile? It usually involves the five days or so during a woman’s cycle in which the woman can get pregnant. The cervical mucus becomes a clear stretchy discharge that is stringy enough so that the sperm can travel up the cervix, into the uterus and finally into the fallopian tubes where fertilization usually occurs.

How to Check Cervical Mucus

There are several ways to collect and monitor cervical mucus. It is important to wash and dry your hands prior to any of these mucus collection strategies. The most common and simple way to collect a sample of your cervical mucus is to wipe the vaginal entrance with tissue and then analyze the consistency of the mucus.

You may also choose to insert a finger or cotton swab around the entrance to the vagina or sweeping around the cervix itself. After collecting the cervical mucus, determine the color, stretchiness, and quantity. You may also want to place a sample of the mucus between your thumb and forefinger and stretch the mucus apart to determine the texture. For example, during ovulation the mucus will stretch out to several centimeters.

Tips For Checking Cervical Mucus

  1. Do not check cervical mucus immediately after sexual intercourse.
  2. Find a comfortable position. For example, sit on the toilet, squat beside the toilet, or stand with one leg lifted up on the side of the bathtub.
  3. Check your cervical mucus after a bowel movement, as it will closer to your vaginal entrance at that time.

How to Increase Cervical Mucus

If you are trying to conceive, you may want to increase your amount and quality of fertile cervical mucus. Please note, if you are not producing fertile cervical mucus you may need to contact your health care provider to discuss your fertility.

There is little scientific evidence relate to increasing amount of cervical mucus, beyond avoiding dehydration. Many herbal remedies, trick, and tips are found in books and online, however very few of them are backed up by science.

Instead, focus on having a healthy body by:

  1. Staying hydrated.
  2. Eating an overall healthy diet.
  3. Maintaining a healthy weight.
  4. Limiting caffeine intake.
  5. Avoiding smoking.

What Does Yellow Mucus Mean?

Yellow mucus from the cervix can come in pregnancy and when you are not pregnant. Normally, yellow mucus doesn’t mean anything and you can have yellow cervical mucus at any point in the menstrual cycle.

As long as the cervical mucus has no odor, it doesn’t mean anything dangerous and it isn’t anything you need to report to your doctor. Only if the mucus has a bad odor or if you have other symptoms, such as vaginal burning, vaginal itching or vulvar pain you do need to make an appointment to see your doctor.

What Does Brown Vaginal Mucus Mean?

Brown vaginal mucus can be from old blood inside the uterus that turns brown as it decays. Instead of having red blood coming from the vagina, the discharge will be brown and this isn’t anything to be concerned about.

You need to be worried if the brown vaginal discharge is associated with other signs and symptoms, such as vaginal burning, vaginal itching or pain in the vulva. This can mean that you have contracted a sexually transmitted disease or STD such as gonorrhea, trichomonas, or chlamydia.

These diseases give you symptoms of vaginal discomfort and a malodorous vaginal discharge, and mean that you need to see your doctor for further evaluation. The doctor will do a vaginal smear and send it for culture to see if you have contracted an STD. If the test results are positive, you need to be placed on antibiotics or possibly antifungal medications in order to treat the infection. Your sexual partner or partners need to be treated as well or you will likely get the infection back again. Some STDs are not all that serious while others, such as chlamydia, can lead to female infertility if you do not get it treated in time.

Using Cervical Mucus Changes to Predict Fertility

When are you most fertile

Some couples will use changes in cervical mucus in order to identify when it is more likely that you can become pregnant. Cervical mucus changes can be followed in order to prevent a pregnancy or to predict the time you are most fertile. This is used as part of the rhythm method of birth control. Right after a woman has her period, the cervical mucus is usually scant and is white or clear in color. The estrogen from the ovaries is acting on the cervix and on the uterine lining. The uterine lining is building up and the cervical mucus is thin and not very stretchy.

When a woman becomes more fertile, the cervical mucus changes. It becomes clear and stretchy. You can take a sampling of the cervical mucus and stretch it between your thumb and forefinger. When this happens, it means that you are becoming more fertile and the mucus is designed to allow for easier passage of the sperm through the cervix and into the uterus and fallopian tubes. It is when the cervical mucus becomes clear and stretchy, you can get pregnant and you are about to ovulate.

If you don’t want to become pregnant, you should avoid having sex or use a barrier method of birth control in order to prevent a pregnancy. If you are instead trying to become pregnant, this is the time to have sex as much as you can. Sperm can live in the cervical mucus and in the uterus itself for up to five days so if you begin having sex as soon as you notice the change in cervical mucus, there will be plenty of sperm in the fallopian tubes when the egg finally releases from the luteal sac and travels down the fallopian tube.

As soon as the egg is fertilized or even when the egg is not fertilized and degenerates, the corpus luteum begins to secrete progesterone, which drastically alters the characteristics of the cervical mucus. Rather than being stretchy and clear, it becomes white or yellow and is sticky in character. This kind of stickiness prevents sperm from entering the cervical canal and you cannot get pregnant during that time. The sticky and white (or yellow) cervical mucus will persist up until the time you get your period.

If you are pregnant, you won’t get your period and the estrogen and progesterone of pregnancy will increase to there will be more cervical mucus than you are normally used to. This begins as soon as the time of implantation and will last throughout the pregnancy. Unless there are complications of the pregnancy, the cervical mucus will remain white or yellow in color and you will have no odor to the discharge. If you are not pregnant, the cervical mucus will be scanter and you will get your period about fourteen days after the cervical mucus changes from clear and stringy to white and sticky. When your period comes, the mucus will be tinged pink and you will have an increase in discharge from the cervix that eventually becomes frank bleeding.

Be wary of any cervical mucus that is foamy or has a bad odor. Usually, you will have other symptoms, such as vaginal itching, vaginal burning or pain in the vulvar area. It means that you have contracted an STD and run the risk of passing that infection onto your sexual partner. Rather than ignoring this change in vaginal mucus, you should see your doctor to be evaluated and possibly treated for your STD.

Read also: Early Pregnancy Symptoms before Missed Period

Q&A about CM

  • What does cervical mucus do?

Cervical mucus is produced by the body to protect contaminants and infections from entering the uterus via the vagina and cervix. In addition, fertile cervical mucus nourishes sperm and facilitates the travel of sperm through the cervix and uterus to the fallopian tube.

  • What does discharge look like?

Cervical discharge varies from person to person, day to day. Hormonal changes due to the menstrual cycle mean that mucus may be white, clear, yellow, stringy, pasty, or even blood tinged.

  • What does cervical mucus look like when you are pregnant?

During pregnancy, cervical mucus increases in amount and will appear white. Some brown cervical mucus may be present at implementation.

  • What does fertile cervical mucus look like?

When the body is fertile, the cervical mucus or ovulation fluid is clear and stretchy. It is often compared to egg whites in consistency.

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