The Cervical Mucus
Cervical mucus or cervical fluid is one of the accurate physical signs used to monitor the female ovulation cycle.
I have collected in this article the basics which I have been using
over the years to respond to the practical issues women often ask about
the secretions of the cervix.
What is Cervical Mucus?
The cervix of the uterus contains minute glands within it which secrete or produce fluids that drain down onto the vaginal walls. The term mucus is a special kind of secretion that contains a complex protein giving it a slippery texture.
In other parts of the body like the digestive tract and vagina, mucus helps in to lubrication to reduce friction. The secretions of the cervix are not always containing much mucus as we see below that they vary with the cycle changes. Sometimes, it has been simply called cervical fluid.
Cervical secretion is not exactly the same as vaginal secretions. The vaginal walls also have some cells that produce a small quantity of secretions. Therefore not every secretion found in the vagina should be taken as coming from the cervix in all situations.
This mucus helps protect the uterus, cervix and vagina especially from infections but much more has important fertility functions. At ovulation, the peak fertile day, the cervix helps to nurture the sperms, if any, and also direct their ascension into the uterus. After ovulation, it p
Practical Utility Of The Cervical Fluid
Where does the practical usefulness of cervical fluid lie? There are two potential aspects of a woman’s life that could require acquaintance with the mucus from the cervix- fertility and infertility.
Have you monitored your cervical mucus before? Some women just get freaked out by it. You can share your feelings or how to made it through at the bottom of the page or by clicking this link to go there
Observing the cervical fluid is a very useful sign that can be used in fertility charting,
where women monitor their most fertile period to either conceive or prevent a pregnancy. It is indeed more useful than most women imagine.
The amount and characteristics of the cervix mucus change with the different phases of the ovulation cycle. The relationship between the cervical mucus and the phase of the menstrual cycle is so close that by observing the mucus keenly, a woman can easily master her cycle phases and especially predict ovulation and menstruation.
Observing the cervical fluid has the advantage in that it can be used to predict ovulation in advance in contrast to the basal body temperature monitoring which only tells a woman in retrospect that ovulation has occurred. However, I either of them could be monitored alone or better still together in fertility charting.
Our free ovulation chart in pdf format has the option of monitoring the two signs concurrently if desired.
cervical mucus must provide a hospitable environment for sperms to survive and fertilize the egg. If the mucus is hostile, infertility may result. In infertility evaluation, it is called the cervical factor. The evaluation of a possible hostile mucus is done by the Post-Coital Test, where the cervical mucus is exa
Cervical Fluid Changes Within the Cycle
It is known that hormones control the body changes of the ovulation cycle including the changes in cervical mucus. While estrogen controls the changes of the follicular phase, progesterone is responsible for the changes in the cervical fluid during the luteal phase.
These 3 basic properties pertaining to the cervical secretions a woman should be acquainted with.
- SensationThis refers to the feeling or sensation a woman can learn to detect at the vulva or area around the vaginal entrance. A woman can feel dry, moist,wet or slipery. You will require time to learn this body sensation over many cycles.
- Appearance, amount and textureThe color of the mucus varies and may be white, creamy or clear. Its consistence or texture also changes and could be watery or jelly-like.
- Ability to StretchThis is an important characteristic of the cervical mucus. It is tested by what is called the finger test. A small amount of mucus is held between the thumb and index finger which are then pulled apart. The mucus may break easily between the two fingers, stretch to a short distance and then breaks or stretch all the way as the two fingers are separated without breaking easily.
Women should learn to monitor these three basic features and possible others if they want to monitor the cervical mucus.
For purposes of clarity and better understanding, I will state here that there are 4 different stages of cervical fluid that occur within each ovulation cycle. Remember that each woman will require some months to familiarize herself with her system. Each woman is different and so she should learn what is normal for her.
- Stage 1This stage follows menses and may last somewhere between 3 to 5 days. Often there is no mucus and the woman feels dry at the vulva (around the lips in the entrance into the vagina).If any mucus appears, it is sticky or gummy. It may come out as a small blob on the underwear.It is mucus that denotes an infertile period. It may be white or yellow and does not stretch between the fingers.
- Stage 2This
follows the stage of dryness and marks the beginning of the fertile period. It may last about 2-4 days. The increasing amount of estrogen during the follicular phase causes the amount and quality of mucus to change. A sensation of moistness begins. It is a transitional phase between the infertile and the fertile mucus. The mucus becomes scant creamy, milky or lotion-like secretion and gradually increases in amount. It becomes stretchy but easily breaks as the fingers are separated.
- Stage 3This is the moment of peak fertility and it is shown in the cervical mucus. The mucus is like the white of an egg, watery and thread-like, and will not break even though your fingers are separated several inches apart. It may last about 1-5 days. The last day you note this mucus is indeed the peak day in the fertile window indicating ovulation. The amount of mucus greatly increases equally at this time. This mucus nourishes sperms and help direct them into the uterine cavity. Sperms may live up to 3 days in this fertile mucus.
- Stage 4This follows ovulation, under the influence of progesterone. The mucus becomes sticky and thick and actually forms a sort of mucus plug, blocking the canal in the cervix. The amount of mucus reduces gradually until menstruation.
Monitoring and Charting
Some women may just cringe when told to monitor their cervical mucus. It is a simple and very useful way of acquainting yourself with your body. However, it is not a must for every woman. If you are not comfortable with it, you can monitor the basal body temperature or use ovulation kits now sold in stores to detect ovulation.
There is no replacement though for the mastery of your body. No book or school will do this. They may guide but you are different from any other woman and so you should know yourself.
The secret of monitoring the mucus of the cervix therefore lies in determining your personal pattern. After about 3 to 6 months of fertility charting, a woman can tell the events of her cycle like ovulation far ahead of time.
simply entails identifying the different qualities of the cervical mucus throughout the cycle. Every day, you will have to determine your sensation of your vulva, the amount, color and texture of the cervical mucus as described above. Once identified, these changes are then recorded on a fertility chart. You can download and print our free ovulation chart for personal use.
There are three methods you can employ to obtain cervical mucus for examination:
toilet tissue and cleaning the entrance to the vagina( vulval area) to get some secretions to examine. This is particularly suitable for those with usual abundant discharge and for those not comfortable with the use of their fingers.
- Inserting your finger into the vagina and getting some secretions.
- The third and best method if possible is to insert the finger to the position of the cervix and getting secretions directly from there. Remember to wash the hands before, and obviously after, and also to avoid injuring yourself especially if you keep long finger nails. A woman may sit on the toilet, squat or stand up.
Recording the changes during each cycle and subsequently reviewing the pattern of several cycles is the cornerstone of identifying your personal pattern of cervical mucus changes.
Cautions and Limitation
The following should be borne in mind as you proceed to monitor the cervical mucus:
- Do not mistake sperms for mucus, especially within 1-2 days of intercourse. Experience will help you distinguish the two.
- Diseases like infections and polycystic ovarian disease may affect vaginal secretions and so always remember to consult your doctor if the mucus pattern looks abnormal.
- Factors like stress, medications( such as Clomid),pre-menopausal state, dieting, weight change, fasting or travel may affect the cervical fluid.
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Many woman have a hard time checking the cervical mucus. What is your experience?
Most women, especially those who just starting to check their cervical mucus, say that this is just “messy”. Did you have a similar feeling? How did you go about it?Share your experience with those who might be going through the same issues.