Cervical mucus is expelled from a woman’s vagina all throughout her menstrual cycle. Many women will be confused, wondering if what their experiencing is one of the cervical mucus stages or implantation discharge. Understanding what you’re experiencing will require in-depth knowledge in both areas.
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What Is Cervical Mucus?
Mucus discharge is produced by a woman’s cervix on a daily basis. Chances are, you’ve experienced this discharge from time to time. When the mucus levels become too high or they have nowhere else to go, they will eventually make their way out of the cervix and into a woman’s underwear.
The normal cervical mucus cycle occurs every month like clockwork. The cervical mucus stages include:
- Egg white cervical mucus: When the mucus is an egg white color and stretches an inch or two without breaking, this is the time when a woman is most fertile.
- Watery cervical mucus: Watery discharge occurs before the egg-white color is seen and happens right before your most fertile time.
- Creamy cervical mucus: Thick and creamy discharge is not fertile and will actually hinder the sperm’s ability to move through the cervix.
- Sticky cervical mucus: Women are least fertile when the mucus is sticky and feels like a paste. This will be chunkier than a consistent texture.
Mucus can be seen all throughout a woman’s menstrual cycle and is necessary for birthing. Some women will have less or more mucus depending on the amount of estrogen in their body, and many women will have “dry” spells where they witness very little mucus at all.
Don’t be alarmed if your mucus is not regular or the same as what’s listed above.
The only time you should worry is if your mucus is not white or clear. Brown mucus or red mucus can indicate that blood was leftover from your period and is just now being expelled from the body. If you experience this color change for any length of time, you may want to consult with your physician to ensure that you’re in a healthy state and that no other factors are at play in your mucus color change.
The Role of Cervical Mucus
Women experience discharge of cervical mucus regularly. However, this normal everyday process is actually quite important in the conception process.
In fact, it’s necessary in order for you to be able to conceive, since it provides a safe alkaline environment that assists in the transport of sperm. Since it’s produced in the tiny glands of the woman’s cervix every day, most women barely even notice cervical mucus after a while.
It’s very normal, but you will notice changes in the composition of the mucus depending on your fertility cycle. The consistency and amount will also have some variation, depending on your hormone levels in each phase of your menstrual cycle.
This is why there is almost no discharge during the first phase of your cycle when the follicle-stimulating hormone prepares the ovum for detachment. As your body begins to produce more estrogen, the amount of mucus will increase in time with it.
It won’t be abundant, but it will be thick and sticky, signaling your time of lowest fertility. Over time, just before your ovulation phase, you will see a lot of mucus that is fluid and can easily be stretched between your fingers.
This is the optimal period for women to attempt conception, since there’s tons of cervical mucus to help the sperm along. Of course, if you don’t get pregnant, the progesterone producing the mucus will decrease and your normal cycle will begin.
If you are pregnant though, you’ll enter the phase of implantation following conception. When implantation has occurred, the mucus will become more viscid, also changing due to ovulation and fertilization.
Cervical mucus, made mostly of water with added sugars, proteins and electrolytes, is necessary for the sperms to make their way to the uterus through the cervix.
If you don’t have enough, you may be lacking the necessary levels of estrogen, which may hinder the process of conception. Low cervical mucus may also indicate other issues like dehydration.
However, regardless, remember that this mucus, despite how often you might see it, actually plays a very important role. If you’re worried about the amount of cervical mucus you’re producing, chat with your doctor.
Outside of pregnancy, cervical mucus works to protect the genitalia from bacterial infections, a function which the mucus continues to perform even after implantation occurs. During pregnancy, the mucus will help with the elimination of weakened sperm cells.
The sperm cells that do make it through are given a favorable environment, thanks to the mucus. This is what contributes to implantation.
What Is Implantation Discharge?
Cervical mucus after implantation is a little different. The process of implantation occurs when the egg and the sperm fertilize. The egg will make its way to the uterine wall and embed itself into the uterine lining where it will remain.
Women may experience some bleeding at this time, but it’s very light.
In fact, implantation bleeding is one of the first signs of pregnancy; however, only 1 in 3 women will experience this bleeding. You’ll know that it’s implantation when you’re spotting or bleeding when you wouldn’t have your normal period. It’s not a lot of blood, and very light in most cases. Bleeding lasts 1 – 2 days at most and will not be as heavy as your normal period blood.
Most women really don’t experience implantation discharge. Instead, it’s more of a change in the vaginal mucus discharge than it is a new type of discharge.
So, how does cervical mucus change after implantation?
The amount of mucus will increase to levels that are similar to ovulation levels. You’ll experience a mucus that contains far more water (98%) and that is more viscid. The goal of the mucus at this time is to protect the egg and not to allow sperm to flow through the body. You’re already pregnant at this point, and ovulation mucus will be more to protect the baby from harmful bacteria than to help with sperm transportation.
But, every woman is different.
Detecting Implantation Using Cervical Mucus
You can monitor your pregnancy very early on by keeping an eye on your cervical mucus production. Detecting implantation by taking a look at the composition of the mucus will let you know that you’re past the stage of conception.
You will also know if the egg has embedded itself within the wall of your uterus. Outside of pregnancy, there are generally five possible forms of discharge.
These are dry days where there is no discharge, thick sticky mucus, creamy-like secretions, abundant discharge and finally, an abundance of mucus. The latter will signal the best time for you to attempt conception.
Cervical mucus changes when you begin your pregnancy though, which you’ll begin to notice during the first two weeks. The cervical mucus will change in terms of color and consistency compared to what you experienced when you were not pregnant.
This is because progesterone is now running through your body more freely. Your body is going through a lot of big changes though, so don’t expect the mucus to remain the same during this time.
You’ll notice lots of fluctuations during this time, which signal that implantation has occurred. At the same time, you will also notice implantation bleeding, along with cramping, spotting, nausea, bloating and breast toxicosis.
It’s likely that you will feel some implantation pains as well but rest assured that this is all normal.
Changes after Implantation
After implantation when the egg has embedded itself in the uterine wall, you will continue to notice changes in cervical mucus. Generally, the amount of mucus will increase, signaling an early pregnancy.
This happens because your body is dealing with many changes, including increased blood flow to the vagina and hormonal changes in the body. First off, you may notice some blood in your mucus following implantation.
This is caused by the process itself, making your mucus look a little pink or brown. Once implantation is complete, your organs will start undergoing changes due to the shifting levels of hormones within your body.
You’ll be producing more progesterone to regulate your endocrine system, which swells the cervix and therefore, increases the blood flow. In turn, this produces more cervical mucus when the gland that produces it is stimulated.
A few days after implantation is finished, the mucus will have formed a protective layer of mucus to keep your fetus safe. The cervical pharynx will be completely plugged up for the purpose of protection. During the first trimester, you might notice an abundance of fluid discharge.
Usually, this will be minimal though and very thick, lessening over time.
Discharge after Conception
Conception occurs after sexual intercourse and normally within 24 hours of ovulation. The first discharge seen after conception occurs will contain both mucus and sperm, so it’s not a good indicator of how the discharge will look after conception.
Instead, after the sperm has left the body, the cervical mucus will change.
Mucus levels will ramp up and will be semi-transparent in color. Some women do not experience an abundance of discharge, while others will. The most important thing is that the discharge is not an abnormal color or consistency.
What Does Pregnancy Discharge Look Like?
White discharge after ovulation is a good sign that you may be pregnant. At this time, your body is starting to produce hormones to help with the pregnancy and keep a baby healthy. These are the changes that have to happen for a healthy pregnancy, but they’ll also change the way that your discharge looks in the process.
The placenta is the main producer of these hormones.
What happens is that your estrogen and progesterone levels will increase after pregnancy has occurred. Even if you don’t know you’re pregnant, your discharge can be an indicator of pregnancy.
Estrogen levels will increase, causing you to have milky white discharge that is normally witnessed within the first week or two of pregnancy.
Note: White discharge is experienced at the end of your cycle and is also very thick. Do not confuse this discharge for you being pregnant.
Women that are using their discharge to determine ovulation will often make note of their color and consistency so that they don’t confuse end of cycle discharge with conception. If the discharge is thick and white but also very itchy, you may have a yeast infection and will want to consult with your doctor at this time. You shouldn’t feel any itchiness at this time.
Discharge during Ovulation
Vaginal discharge during ovulation is clearer than it is anything else. This discharge becomes watery to allow sperm to flow through the cervix with ease, but it’s also very elastic. This elasticity allows sperm to flow through the cervix and fills in any crevices where sperm may get stuck along the way.
Discharge can be seen as strands or small ropes where the sperm is allowed to flow.
Ovulation occurs around 14 days after the first day of your last menstrual period. This will be when the discharge is at its highest level, and it will change rapidly over the first two weeks after menstruation starts.
The ovary will release an egg right in the middle of your cycle and vaginal discharge will also increase.
Discharge after Ovulation
Discharge after ovulation doesn’t mean that you’re necessarily pregnant. The cervix does not completely dry up at this time. Instead, it will be going through different cycles or stages depending on the amount of estrogen in the body.
If implantation has occurred and you have conceived a child, your discharge will remain.
The mucus will increase as the body produces more estrogen and progesterone. A good way to test this is to monitor your mucus texture and appearance, and then check it after you’ve had intercourse. Be sure to allow a few days in between. This is when you’ll be able to see if the thick white discharge is still present.
Your cervical mucus stages can tell you a lot about your current menstrual cycle and what’s occurring inside of your body. While not 100% accurate when predicting ovulation or conception, you can monitor and use your body’s natural mucus changes to predict when ovulation will occur and use it as a possible implantation indicator.
When to Go for A Checkup
Every woman is different. You might find that your mucus matches up to the norm and that you have no need to worry. However, some women do experience more or less mucus than normal.
If you’re a little worried about the amount of cervical mucus, it’s always best to check in with your doctor. After implantation, during the time in which your mucus is more minimal, also keep an eye on possible infections during your first trimester.
Signs of an infection include an unpleasant smell in your vagina, blood stains during discharge, or vaginal secretions accompanied by an itching sensation.
If you notice your vaginal discharge looking yellow, green, or dim-grey, or are dealing with redness or swelling, check in with your doctor immediately.
On the other hand, if you see that the discharge is transparent or white and has no specific smell, then you don’t have any reason to worry. Just be sure to maintain proper hygiene in order to prevent any future problems.
Your doctor can help you do this most efficiently, so you never have to worry about an infection in the first place. You should also make a trip to your doctor if you notice that you’re bleeding outside of your normal menstrual period and you don’t think you’re pregnant.
On the same line of thought, if you’re not producing the normal amount of cervical mucus that you need to conceive a child, your doctor is the best person to chat with.