Have you ever noticed that white discharge in your panties and instantly worried that you had gotten a UTI or some other kind of infection? Well, I am here to tell you that you are (most likely) perfectly fine!
Cervical mucus (CM) is produced by the lining of the cervical canal (Epithelial folds called crypts) as a result of rising estrogen. It is composed of mucus molecules, water, a variety of enzymes, protein chains, and other biochemical compounds including sodium, chloride, and potassium. (1) Cervical fluid changes rapidly during the cycle (see below) and allows for sperm to survive in the body 3-5 days prior to ovulation. And yes I know. I might have well just spoke Greek to you, right? Let’s break this down a little more.
Cervical mucus is the most important part of understanding your fertility and using Fertility Awareness (FA). Your BBT will tell you after you ovulate. And your cervical position is up to interpretation. Ovulation Predictor Kits (OPKs) tell you when you have an LH surge, but not when you ovulate. CM will tell you when your fertile window opens, when you ovulate, and when the fertile window closes.
How to check your cervical mucus:
You do not need to check cervical fluid at the cervix (although you can if you prefer). You can also check very shallowly by inserting 2 fingers to just around the top knuckle or scooping between the labia. The easiest way to check cervical fluid is to feel it between your two fingers, but another option is a simple ‘toilet paper’ inspection after wiping. Pay attention to how it feels when you wipe after going to the bathroom. Is it really wet? Is it dry? Look at your toilet paper. Do you see any discharge on it? What does it look like?
There are 4 basic stages of cervical fluid:
Dry phase (dry/damp) = not fertile.
Often known as baseline, this is how a person’s body is during non-fertile times in their cycle; it is unchanging from day to day. Can feel wet like the inside of your mouth with nothing to collect. Your vagina secretes it’s own fluids separate from the cervical fluid. So almost always if you are checking internally, there will be moisture of some kind on your fingers.
Sticky phase (gelatinous/crumbly/rubbery/white/cloudy) = not fertile.
A person’s baseline may look more dry like glue, or a mixture of glue and water. Everyone is different and consistent charting will help to determine your baseline.
Creamy phase (creamy/milky/lotiony/cloudy/thick/viscous) = semi-fertile.
This is transitional fluid that marks a change from non-fertile into semi-fertile. This is different from the baseline as it is a changing pattern though the day and from day to day.
Clear phase (stretchy/slippery/watery/clear) = fertile.
If you notice egg white vaginal discharge, you are likely about to ovulate. Egg white cervical mucus is the most fertile kind of cervical mucus, and it is frequently abbreviated as EWCM on fertility charts and in trying to conceive forums. Take note of these consistencies:
The reason fertile cervical mucus is called “egg white cervical mucus” is because it does look a lot like raw egg whites. EWCM provides the ideal environment for sperm. It helps the sperm swim up from the vaginal canal and cervix into the uterus.
Egg white discharge also helps the sperm survive the usually more acidic environment of the vagina. If you don’t have fertile quality cervical mucus, the sperm can’t swim or survive as well. This may lead to trouble getting pregnant.
Here is a pdf with 5 Steps To Increase Your Fertile Cervical Mucus.
Note: Cervical mucus after ovulation is typically white/sticky/pasty/tacky. This change back to baseline often happens quite quickly after the peak day of fertility. This mucus may be like baseline that you saw at the beginning of the cycle or can be sticky, tacky, yellowish, a mucus unique to the luteal phase. It can have some characteristics of the semi-fertile fluid although when it is accompanied by a temperature shift, this assures you that this is post ovulation mucus.
When Cervical Mucus Indicates an Infection
In almost every case, thick, white vaginal discharge is a sign of health and wellness for your reproductive organs. However, from time to time, the discharge could be an indication of an underlying health issue.
The following characteristics of discharge are not typical:
- smells foul
- is bright yellow, green, or gray
- causes itching, swell, burning, or irritation
It’s important to see a doctor if you experience any of the following symptoms along with unusual vaginal discharge:
- skipped period
- rashes or sores along with vaginal discomfort
- a burning sensation when you urinate or have intercourse
- a strong and persistent odor coming from the vagina
Cervical discharge with any of these traits could be a sign of an infection. It’s important to see your doctor if you notice any of these changes or symptoms.
As long as the discharge you’re experiencing does not also meet those criteria, the excess fluid coming out of your vagina is a sign of overall health. In other words, it’s a good thing.
Avoid upsetting the pH balance in your vagina by skipping soaps, scented washes, douches, or any other products that strip the vagina of its natural moisture and built-in defenses. This includes vaginal discharge.
The vagina is designed to care for itself and prevent future infections. Normal, healthy vaginal discharge plays an important role in this.
1 Odeblad, Erik. “The discovery of different types of cervical mucus and the Billings Ovulation Method.” Bulletin of the Natural Family Planning Council of Victoria 21, no. 3 (1994): 4; Klaus, Hanna. “Natural Family Planning — Is It Scientific? Is It Effective?” Newman Lecture Series 1 (2000): 6.
Make sure you grab a copy of my FREE guide 5 Steps To Increase Your Fertile Cervical Mucus & my FREE Self-Care Mini Course. You can access either one by clicking on the title. These are packed full of information that you can begin implementing today to put yourself one step closer to getting pregnant, naturally.
If you’re looking for a group of like-minded women with which to share your fertility wellness journey, be sure to check out my Whole Body Fertility & Wellness Facebook group today!
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