15. Question: Can the position & feel of my cervix tell me I am ovulating?
Answer: Of all the natural bodily fertility signs, observing changes in cervical fluids is one of the most popular, well-known, and reliable. However, monitoring changes in the position and “feel” of the cervix can also provide valuable information about where you are in your menstrual cycle and if you might be approaching your ovulation date. Indeed, your cervix (the passageway between the uterus and the vagina) will shift itself, lifting and dropping as you move through various phases of your cycle.First, a brief review of the cervix and cervical mucus (aka CM). The cervix is the narrow passage between the womb and the vagina. It’s purpose is to both to produce fertile cervical fluids around the time you ovulate and to block the entrance to the uterus during those times of the month when you are not fertile. In effect, the cervix plays a red light/green light function during your cycle. About five days or so before you ovulate, the “green light” aspect of the cervix kicks in: fertile-quality mucus is generated by glands within the cervical canal. Cervical mucus helps sperm swim and offers protection and insulation. Also, the position of the cervix rises or lifts (detectable through self-exam). During the rest of your menstrual cycle, non-fertile mucus is produced in order to protect the uterus from infection. The vaginal environment is likely to be more acidic during this time frame, the “red light” period.
As noted above, your “fertile window” is comprised of a handful of days prior to ovulation and the 24 hours following the release of the ovum from the ovarian follicle. During this brief window of high fertility, an increase in certain hormones – particularly the estrogens – will effectuate physiological changes in the reproductive organs and stimulate CM production. The same fluctuations in the estrogens will also precipitate changes in cervix texture and position. Thus, if you are doing your bbt chart in the morning, you can also take a few moments to examine changes in CM and cervical position to get a better “read out” on your “fertility status”. Alteration in both CM and cervix position provide a reliable compass for navigating your cycle and predicting when you will ovulate.
Cervical Fluids: To examine your cervical fluids (or cervix), first of all ensure that your fingers are clean and dry – or use a piece of toilet paper to wipe a fluid sample. During much of your menstrual cycle, you will likely note that there is not a whole lot of cervical mucus to observe in the first place. Besides a general lack of CM, the fluids you are capable of sampling during these times will likely be rather sticky, dry, or firm. That’s normal when you are not fertile. Also, during these periods, the chances are good that cervical fluids will be opaque or cream-colored or exhibit a yellow tint. This is non-fertile cervical fluid and indicates that you are likely some time off from your expected ovulation date. Now, as you near ovulation, you should be able to note some salient changes in CM fluid texture, color, and volume. First of all, the volume will increase and the CM will become increasingly stretchy, thin, and translucent (see-through, colorless, or clear). A CM sample, during your fertile window, may stretch between your fingers as you pull them apart (during infertile times, the CM will simply break as you pull your fingers apart). Now, let’s look at temporally contiguous changes in cervix position and feel.
Position and Feel of Cervix: As you experience changes in CM, you’ll also note a transformation in the feel and position of the cervix (caused by the very same hormonal triggers). During those non-fertile days when CM is scarce or tacky, your cervix (upon touch) will also exhibit a certain dryness. It will also “hang” lower and feel closed up. As you might surmise, you will likely not be fertile when the cervix feels hard, closed, dry, or “resistant”. However, as you approach the time you ovulate, you’ll discover that the cervix is giving you the “green light” to conceive, so to speak. The position of the cervix will lift (compared to non-fertile times) and the cervix should feel both softer and wetter and more “open”. Cervical mucus is produced within the cervix itself, so it’s logical that you will be able to detect CM at the entrance to cervix during an self-examination.
So there you have it! By cross-referencing these two major fertility indicators – cervical mucus and position/feel of the cervix – you’ll be able to better narrow in on the ideal time of month to get pregnant. If you have any questions on procedure or interpretation of you bbt chart or your fertile signs, your doctor should be able to provide guidance and support.