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Cervical Mucus: A Good Fertility Indicator?

By: Kathryn Senior PhD - Updated: 10 Jan 2013 | comments*Discuss
Cervical Mucus Fertility Indicator

The consistency of cervical mucus changes throughout the menstrual cycle and alters perceptibly at the time of ovulation. By examining your own cervical mucus over several months, you can accurately pinpoint your most fertile time. This may not be right in the middle of your cycle so using the signals from your own body rather than the calendar can sometimes mean the difference between conceiving and becoming more anxious as you try to get pregnant.

Checking your own cervical mucus is an intimate procedure but most women find they can get used to it fairly quickly and consider it an essential part of their routine when trying for a baby. The best way to start is just after your last monthly period has finished and then test your cervical mucus at the same time every day for a couple of months, so that you get to know the changes that occur.

Cervical Must After Menstruation

At this point in your cycle, the womb lining is starting to reform and the egg follicle is starting to mature in your ovary. There is very little chance of getting pregnant. If you examine your cervical mucus – the best way is to use a clean finger to wipe gently around the inside of the vagina close to the cervix – there will be hardly any there. You probably won’t be able to remove any to do the finger stretch test (see below).

Cervical Mucus Approaching Ovulation

Over a few days you will notice that the amount of vaginal secretions increases and you will be able to pick up enough cervical mucus to be able to do the finger stretch test. This involves putting some of the cervical mucus between the thumb and first finger and gently pulling it apart to see the colour, and to check when the thread breaks. At this point in the cycle, the cervical mucus will be white or cream in colour, quite thick and it breaks easily.

A Few Days Before Ovulation

You will notice over the next few days a change in colour – the cervical mucus will become more transparent and will appear cloudy rather than creamy white. It will get stretchier and will stay together longer when you pull your fingers apart in the finger stretch test. The volume will continue to increase.

Cervical Mucus At Ovulation

The consistency of cervical mucus is very closely related to the point of ovulation. Just after an egg is released from the ovary, the mucus becomes clear and transparent, it is at its maximum volume and it is extremely stretchy and stringy. You can easily pull your fingers apart and the strand of mucus hardly ever breaks. Some women think it now feels like the white of a raw egg. It is at this point, and around the next three days, that you are at your most fertile and you can plan to have plenty of sex to maximise your chances of conceiving.

The cervical mucus provides the ideal environment at this time for sperm to survive – they can live in it quite well for up to 72 hours. They also swim through the thinner mucus more easily, making it more likely that a viable sperm will reach an egg at the right point at the bottom of the fallopian tube, fertilise it, and then it will implant into the rich lining of the uterus, which has been thickening over the previous two weeks.

After Ovulation

The mucus becomes thicker again and there is much less produced. By checking throughout the month, you can then wait a few days before doing an early pregnancy test.

Factors that Change Cervical Mucus

You need to remember that taking some types of drug for conditions unrelated to pregnancy and conception can alter cervical mucus, and it does change with age. If you are over 35, this method may not work well for you, and you may be better using a temperature chart and measuring your daily body temperature for information about your ovulation point. If you do not ovulate on some cycles, neither method will show any particular change, but try again the next month. It can take two years for couples to get pregnant when they are in their late 30s.

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kath 777 - 10-Jan-13 @ 7:37 PM
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