If you participate in any of the many TTC (trying to conceive) forums or message boards on the Internet, you have undoubtedly run across the following terms: cervical mucus (CM), egg white cervical mucus (EWCM), and fertile-quality cervical mucus. Cervical mucus certainly gets plenty of attention in TTC circles, and for good reason.
Cervical mucus plays a fundamental role in the TTC process by nourishing and protecting sperm as it makes the long, arduous journey through the female reproductive tract to meet the egg. So, as you become more familiar with your cervical mucus, you will be able to better time having sex in order to conceive.
In simple terms, cervical mucus is a fluid secreted by the cervix, the production of which is stimulated by the hormone estrogen. Throughout your menstrual cycle, the amount and quality of cervical mucus that is produced will fluctuate, and by observing these changes you can begin to predict the most fertile days in your cycle.
As you approach ovulation, your estrogen levels begin to surge, which causes your cervix to secrete more cervical mucus that is of a so-called “fertile quality”. This fertile-quality cervical mucus, also known as egg white cervical mucus (EWCM), is clear and stretchy, similar to the consistency of egg whites, and is the perfect protective medium for sperm in terms of texture and pH.
Having enough egg white cervical mucus during your fertile window will actually improve your chances of conceiving. And, by noticing when your body is producing egg white cervical mucus, you will be able to identify your most fertile days.
The most accurate way to identify changes in your cervical mucus is to collect and observe a sample of mucus on a daily basis. To do this, wash and dry your hands well, then insert your middle or index finger into your vagina, getting as close to your cervix as possible.
You may also notice cervical mucus when you use toilet paper to wipe. You can use either method (checking at your cervix or when you wipe); just make sure you are consistent in using the same method each day.
Remove your finger and observe the consistency of the mucus sample by rolling the mucus between your thumb and finger, pressing your fingers together, and then slowly moving them apart.
The following information describes the typical progression of the cervical mucus quantity and quality you can expect to see as you move through your menstrual cycle:
- After your menstrual period: The production of cervical mucus is at its lowest immediately following your period, and some women report “dryness” during this time. But, over the next several days, more mucus will become present, and it will likely be yellow, cloudy, or white in color, and somewhat sticky the touch.
- Your Ovulation Date Approaches: As you enter your fertile window, your cervical mucus will increase in quantity and moistness. Its color may be cream-like in appearance.
- At the Time of Ovulation: In the days immediately preceding ovulation, the production of cervical mucus will be at its highest and the consistency and color of the mucus will be similar to egg whites. Once you detect the presence of this fertile-quality cervical mucus, you will know you are in your most fertile days.
- After Ovulation: After ovulation, the quantity of cervical mucus begins to decline and become thicker in consistency.
Unfortunately, after tracking changes in your cervical mucus, you might find that you really don’t produce very much fertile-quality cervical mucus around the time of ovulation. Or, you might even realize that the cervical mucus you produce is “hostile”, meaning it is thick and sticky, instead of thin and stretchy around ovulation.
Either condition can hinder your reproductive efforts by making it difficult for sperm to travel efficiently and safely to the fallopian tube to meet the egg for fertilization.
Insufficient production of fertile-quality cervical mucus or the presence of hostile cervical mucus may result from a variety of factors including diet, stress, hormonal issues, or even from taking prescription medications like Clomid.
If you notice that you are not producing a significant amount of cervical mucus during your fertile time of the month, or that it is not “fertile quality” in nature, you might find the following suggestions helpful for improving your quantity and quality of cervical mucus.
First and foremost, staying properly hydrated is very important, so be sure to drink plenty of water. Secondly, taking FertileCM, a dietary supplement designed to increase cervical mucus production and tone the lining of the uterus, can enhance your trying-to-conceive efforts.
And finally, while you work to improve your cervical mucus production, consider using a sperm-friendly lubricant like BabyDance. This product features a pH and consistency that is similar to egg white cervical mucus and can be used during intercourse to help as many sperms as possible survive the journey through your reproductive tract.
These products are all available at Fairhaven Health, a leading provider of natural, doctor-designed products to help couples conceive. Fairhaven is also a corporate sponsor of the American Pregnancy Association supporting the mission to make motherhood a healthy reality.
Some couples want to explore more traditional or over the counter efforts before exploring infertility procedures. If you are trying to get pregnant and looking for resources to support your efforts, we invite you to check out the fertility product and resource guide provided by our corporate sponsor. Review resource guides here.
More helpful information:
Compiled using information from the following sources:
1. Weschler, T. (2002). Taking charge of your fertility. New York, NY: HarperCollins Publishers Inc.