Cervical mucus and early pregnancy go hand in hand. During this time, the body is undergoing massive changes, and so is the level of cervical mucus that is being produced. Initially, there will be an increase in mucus production due to the increase in blood flow to the vagina, and hormonal changes in the body.
Unless a woman knows how to properly check cervical mucus after conception, they will not know how to properly characterize the mucus that is found. However, there are so many ways to predict ovulation, from complicated charts to basal body temperature and special predictor kits. But we often overlook one of the easiest ways to predict ovulation: cervical mucus.
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Why Cervical Mucus is Effective at Predicting Your Most Fertile Days
Unlike basal body temperature readings, cervical mucus can predict ovulation up to a few days in advance. Basal body temperature changes only occur after ovulation, which won’t be of much help if you’re trying to get pregnant this month.
Changes in cervical mucus can be seen several days prior to ovulating, which allows you to time intercourse properly.
Other predictor methods sometimes give you a very small window of opportunity for sex, while others won’t even let you know you when you’re fertile until that window has already closed.
What Causes Mucus Changes?
The cervix, which connects the uterus to the vagina, isn’t a smooth pipe. Mucus is produced and released in the crevices of the cervix. Throughout the course of month, hormonal changes will affect the amounts and the consistency of the cervical mucus produced. When you’re closer to ovulation, you’ll naturally produce more mucus to assist the sperm in its journey to the uterus.
For the majority of your cycle, cervical mucus acts as a barrier to any incoming sperm, preventing it from making its way into the uterus. But when you’re fertile, the mucus color and its consistency are the biggest changes you’ll experience. Rather than acting as a barrier, it acts as a way to help the sperm move through the cervix quickly. The mucus also extends the life of the sperm, which allows it to live for up to five days in your body.
Observing the changes in your cervical mucus can help you determine when you’re ovulating, so you can improve your chances of getting pregnant.
How to Check Your Cervical Mucus
The cervix produces mucus that accumulates and coats the crevices of the cervix. When a woman is fertile, the amount of mucus, its color and even its general sensation is increased with the intent of making it easier for sperm to reach a woman’s egg for fertilization. The mucus is so important in the reproductive cycle that it will purposely trap sperm that is irregular to reduce the risk of birth defects.
Mucus is naturally released throughout the month (and women are well aware of when this release happens), so you can check the consistency and color as it is released. Kegel exercises can also help you release more mucus for easy checking. But you can also take a more hands-on approach by conducting a finger test.
The Finger Test
It’s possible to test your mucus using your finger.
- Wash your hands thoroughly.
- Gently insert a finger into your vagina.
- When removing your finger, observe the consistency and color of the mucus. To do this, stretch the mucus in between your fingers.
Ideally, you want to perform this test before intercourse. It can be difficult to tell the difference between mucus and sperm. It’s also important to keep in mind that infections, birth control and certain medications can alter your mucus. The effects of these will vary from woman to woman, with some women experiencing excessive mucus and others experiencing drastically reduced mucus.
Now, mucus will be on your finger and can be examined.
What to Look For
You’ve checked your mucus and observed its consistency and color. Now what? How can you tell if you’re ovulating or close to ovulation? Here are four cervical mucus stages:
- Dry with little/no mucus: Pre-ovulatory. You’re not fertile yet.
- Moist/sticky and creamy/white: During ovulation, your mucus will be moist and white or creamy. It should be stretchy and slightly thick.
- Slippery and transparent: Highly fertile. At your most fertile stage, mucus will be wet and slippery, and released in increasing amounts. The mucus should look like egg whites.
- Dry and sticky. Post-ovulatory. After ovulation, you should see a sharp decrease in mucus, and it should be cream colored and thick.
For best results, check your mucus daily until you see signs of fertility.
Although it may be uncomfortable or odd to check your mucus, it is a highly effective way to determine fertility. You’re using your own body’s signs and signals to determine the best days for conception. Being attuned to your body can help you better predict ovulation, and this method is far less complicated than charting and using predictor kits.
Many women that are uncomfortable using their fingers will wipe their vagina with a tissue to attract the mucus. This isn’t the best option because it only allows you to examine the color. It doesn’t allow you to truly determine the consistency of the mucus, which is needed to determine early pregnancy.
Kegel exercises are known to force mucus out of the cervix and can be tried if you have difficulty examining the mucus.
What Cervical Mucus During Pregnancy Looks Like
Consistency and color are what differentiates cervical mucus in pregnant and non-pregnant women. Cervical mucus after conception is:
- White or clear in color.
- Slippery and a lot more prevalent.
Women have a difficult time telling the difference between the different mucus phases if they’ve never felt their mucus when they’re fertile and highly fertile. It is recommended that you examine your own mucus to understand your body’s mucus consistency and color.
Colors of the mucus can change and be brown or light pink in some circumstances. This can be from implantation bleeding as the blood must move out of the vagina as discharge and mixes with the mucus. These are two very good signs that a pregnancy has occurred.
The amount of mucus during early pregnancy is very noticeable. Women will often have their underwear be wet with mucus due to the levels increasing greatly.
Mucus is needed during early pregnancy and will ultimately form a protective plug in the cervix. After the first few weeks to months, the amount of mucus will greatly decline until the point where most women will be dry. Dryness does not mean that pregnancy has occurred because it is also the first phase of the mucus cycle.
If you’ve recently had your period and are noticing dry mucus levels, you’re not pregnant.
Sometimes, women won’t see a noticeable difference in their cervical mucus. When this occurs, it can be impossible to use the mucus as a way to determine pregnancy. Unfortunately, only a pregnancy test or the help of a doctor can provide you with 99% or higher certainty that pregnancy has occurred.
Mucus will not be accompanied by pain or any other symptoms of pregnancy this early on. Instead, it will only change in consistency.
Some women do not produce a lot of mucus, which means that they’re dry during most of their mucus phases. This doesn’t indicate an internal issue and can actually help with pregnancy prediction. Women that have dry mucus most of the month will find that they have a much more prevalent mucus production when they become pregnant.
Early Pregnancy Indicators
Cervical mucus and early pregnancy are often accompanied by other pregnancy indicators, such as:
- Missed periods
- Change in mood
- Change in appetite
- Breast tenderness
- Increased urination
- Morning sickness
These are common symptoms of pregnancy, but each symptom can be caused by something else. It’s always best to consult with a medical professional or take a home pregnancy test to see if you are pregnant. If you choose to take a home pregnancy test, it’s best to wait until the day after your missed period to take the test. This is the time when the test will be most accurate.