What is cervical mucus?
Cervical mucus is fluid or gel-like discharge from the cervix. Throughout a woman’s menstrual cycle, the thickness and amount of cervical mucus changes. This is because of hormone levels fluctuating throughout your cycle. Hormones stimulate glands in the cervix to produce mucus.
Cervical mucus can help you predict ovulation, so you can track the mucus to help achieve or avoid pregnancy. This is known as fertility awareness, or cervical monitoring. You should use a backup method of birth control if you’re trying to avoid pregnancy.
Read on to learn about cervical mucus and how it changes throughout your menstrual cycle.
Changes to cervical mucus
The amount, color, and consistency of cervical mucus each cycle is different for everyone. General changes to expect might include the following:
- During your menstrual period. Blood will cover the mucus, so you likely won’t notice it during these days.
- After period. Immediately following your period, you may have dry days. On these days, you might not notice any discharge.
- Before ovulation. Your body produces mucus before an egg is released, or before ovulation occurs. It may be yellow, white, or cloudy. The mucus may feel gluey or stretchy in consistency.
- Immediately before ovulation. Just prior to ovulation, your estrogen levels are rising. You may see more clear, stretchy, watery, and slippery mucus. This mucus may remind you of the consistency of egg whites.
- During ovulation. The clear, stretchy mucus that’s the consistency of egg whites will be present during ovulation. The texture and pH of this mucus are protective for sperm. For this reason, if you’re trying to conceive, have sex on ovulating days.
- After ovulation. There’ll be less discharge after ovulation. It may turn thicker, cloudy, or gluey again. Some women experience dry days during this time.
Cervical mucus after conception
After conception, changes to cervical mucus may be a very early sign of pregnancy. Implantation is the attachment of a fertilized egg to your uterus. After implantation, mucus tends to be thick, gummy, and clear in color. Some women experience implantation bleeding, or spotting. This can occur 6 to 12 days following conception.
Unlike your normal period, implantation bleeding should stop after 24 to 48 hours. You may notice these changes prior to a positive pregnancy test.
Cervical mucus in early pregnancy
During the first weeks of a pregnancy, cervical mucus may change in color and consistency. You may notice stickier, white, or yellow mucus, known as leucorrhea. As your pregnancy progresses, your vaginal discharge may continue to change.
Does birth control (pills or IUD) affect cervical mucus?
Birth control pills thicken cervical mucus so sperm can’t reach the egg. If you’re on birth control pills, your cervical mucus may have a different consistency than when you’re not on birth control pills.
Checking cervical mucus
There are a few ways to check changes to cervical mucus. Be sure to wash your hands before and after performing any of the following methods.
Track your mucus daily by inserting a clean finger or two into your vagina, near the cervix. Remove your finger and note the color and texture of the mucus on your fingers.
Wipe the opening of your vagina with white toilet tissue. Do this before you pee or use the restroom. Note the color and consistency of the mucus or discharge on the tissue.
Check underwear or a panty liner
Look for changes in discharge on your underwear daily. Or, use a panty liner to track changes. Depending on the color of your underwear and the amount of time that’s passed, this method may be less reliable than other methods.
How does the cervix change in early pregnancy?
In early pregnancy, changes take place in the position and texture of the cervix and the consistency and color of cervical discharge. Tracking changes in the cervix can help a woman detect whether she is pregnant.
The cervix is a circular band of muscle that separates the uterus from the vagina. The cervix changes at different points in the menstrual cycle and throughout the stages of pregnancy.
In this article, we look at how the cervix and cervical discharge change in the early stages of pregnancy. We also discuss how women can check their cervix for changes.
How does the cervix change?
The cervix undergoes various changes throughout the menstrual cycle and in early pregnancy, which we discuss in the following sections.
When a woman is not pregnant, the position of her cervix changes throughout the stages of the menstrual cycle:
- During ovulation, the cervix is higher in the vagina.
- After ovulation and before menstruation, if the woman has not become pregnant, the cervix drops lower in the vagina.
If a woman has conceived, the cervix will remain higher in the vagina, with its position being similar to that during ovulation.
Using cervical mucus to help predict peak fertility
Egg white cervical mucus: fertile
Watery cervical mucus: fertile
Creamy cervical mucus: non-fertile
Sticky cervical mucus: non-fertile
Understanding your menstrual cycle
Other early signs of pregnancy
Cervical changes are among the many changes that the body undergoes during early pregnancy. Other symptoms of early pregnancy include:
- breast tenderness
- food aversions
- food cravings
- slight cramping
- mood swings
- frequent urination
- nasal congestion
These symptoms are not unique to a pregnancy and may be reasonably mild initially. The same symptoms can also appear just before a menstrual period. It is not possible to tell whether a woman is pregnant without her taking a pregnancy test.
When to see a doctor
Women who think that they might be pregnant should make an appointment with a doctor. They should also talk to a doctor if they miss their period for several months and are not pregnant or if they experience vaginal bleeding during pregnancy.
During early pregnancy, it is best to talk to a doctor if cervical discharge is:
- foul smelling
- bloody due to a cause other than menstruation
Additionally, a person should let their doctor know if they are experiencing vaginal itching or pain. These symptoms can indicate other infections that may affect the cervix.
Women can expect their cervix to change throughout pregnancy. During early pregnancy, the cervix will change slightly in position and in how it feels to the touch. Cervical discharge will also change in consistency and color.
During pregnancy, a woman should see her doctor if she has any doubts, questions, or concerns.