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As the customer service representative at Early Pregnancy Tests, I sometimes receive email inquiries about fertility charting, using a basal thermometer, and monitoring natural fertility signs to predict ovulation. And while bbt charting will be the cornerstone of your fertility chart, monitoring changes in cervical mucus (cervical fluids, CM) is very important - particularly because method of charting allows you to anticipate when you will ovulate each month. This week, I received an email inquiry about the difference in appearance and texture between fertile and non-fertile cervical fluids - a great opportunity to clarify how cervical mucus can be used to determine when you are most fertile each month.
As a brief review, changes in cervical mucus (CM) are not only a key signal of fertility, but are also a big part of successfully achieving pregnancy. Cervical mucus is produced by glands within the cervix, and specifically within your cervical canal. During your menstrual cycle, both the quantity and the quality (texture, appearance) of cervical fluids undergo a number of changes. In human reproduction, fertile-quality cervical mucus supports conception by providing a fluid, healthy medium in which sperm can survive and propel themselves. CM protects sperm from the naturally-acidic environment of the vagina and helps sperm to move through the cervix into the uterus. And because cervical fluids insulate and nourish sperm, the presence of fertile cervical mucus can also extend the life-span of sperm, in turn increasing the odds of conceiving by helping sperm "hang out" and wait for the egg to appear following ovulation. (FertileCM is a natural product that can be used to increase the quality and quantity of cervical mucus you produce.)
So, that's the mechanics of cervical mucus - but how can I use this information as part of my fertility charting? As one customer recently asks...
Question: "Dear Pat, I have been using your basal thermometer now for an entire cycle now and I was able to draw a coverline this month! While on the topic of bbt charting, do you have a picture of fertile cervical mucus and can you describe for me the differences between non-fertile and fertile cervical mucus? Also, when can I expect to see changes in cervical mucus during my cycle - e.g., on which cycle days will the cervical mucus become fertile?"
Answer: Of course, variations in individual mucus patterns will differ among women due to unique variables like cycle length, age, hormonal balance, use of fertility drugs, etc. However, the appearance of "fertile quality" cervical fluids typically arrives directly prior to ovulation, meaning that women can use CM as a very reliable means of ovulation prediction. Let's take a look at the changes in look and feel of CM as you move through your menstrual cycle...
The appearance and texture of cervical fluids will change as you move through your menstrual cycle. Also, the quantity of cervical mucus present is also a key sign: When you are most fertile, CM should be quite abundant. Texture: During your cycle, cervical mucus may be absent or profuse, dryish or wet, thick or thin, sticky or slippery. It may "hold its shape" or it may stretch between your fingers like raw egg-white. Appearance: The look of cervical fluids will also change during your cycle and CM may be white, creamy, yellowish, translucent, or transparent.
When It Happens: During the first part of your menstrual cycle, CM may not be present or it will be dry and thickish. The color may appear white. As you enter the follicular (pre-ovulatory) phase of your cycle, estrogen increases and you may experience "transitional" cervical mucus, marked by increased moisture, increased volume, a more stretchy texture, and a thinner feel. Transitional mucus will still be a bit tacky and hold its form to some degree. The color of transitional cervical mucus may be white, creamy, or yellowish, though it will still be mostly opaque.
Directly prior to ovulation, cervical mucus should be abundant. Fertile cervical mucus is characterized by a transparent appearance - and it may look and feel like raw egg white and stretch between your fingers without breaking (see fig 1). This stretchiness is called Spinnbarkeit and indicates that ovulation is likely imminent. Fertile CM will be thin, slippery (like lubricant), stretchy and translucent. Typically, fertile-quality cervical fluids will appear a few days prior to and during ovulation. Following ovulation, the quality of CM will change again due to sudden decrease in estrogen and increase of progesterone. You may experience transitional mucus, followed abruptly by an increasing dryness (non-fertile CM) through the rest of your luteal phase. Below is a table that provides an overview describing CM changes, what the changes mean, and when they occur.
As noted above, there are many variables that can affect how cervical mucus is produced - and women may have different experiences charting changes in CM. Notably, popular fertility drugs like clomid can cause dryness or a decrease in CM. In addressing the problem of dryness, Pre-Seed is a great product - the only intimate moisturizer of its kind to not act as a barrier to sperm. Pre-Seed was formulated to provide a fertility-friendly medium for sperm and Pre-Seed may actually increase the odds of conceiving for many women.
A new dietary supplement called, appropriately enough, FertileCM is designed to actually help women produce cervical fluids during the ovulatory phase of their cycle. FertileCM works by facilitating blood flow and circulation to the reproductive organs, and research studies indicate that key ingredients in FertileCM support the production of endocervical secretions during the time a woman is most fertile.