Cervical mucus is the single most challenging and also the most important aspect of the fertility awareness method. Cervical mucus tells you when you can get pregnant, and it also tells you a lot about your health. It can tell you whether or not you might have a cervical infection, and it can even serve as an early detection tool for cervical cancer.
There are many different methods of the fertility awareness method. Some methods are mucus only where a woman would use her mucus observations to tell when she is fertile or not without checking her temperature or cervical position. Other methods use the sympto-thermal method where a woman checks all 3 signs of her fertility.
But why is cervical mucus so important anyways?
Cervical mucus is amazing. It definitely doesn’t get enough love in my opinion. Did you know that cervical mucus filters out defective sperm so that they don’t make it into a woman’s fallopian tubes and get a shot at fertilizing an egg? Did you know that cervical mucus is the perfect pH for sperm, and not only does it keep sperm alive for 3-5 days, but it also feeds them and gives them energy? But most importantly, did you know that sperm can’t survive in a woman’s body without cervical mucus? Sperm actually die within minutes unless a woman has cervical mucus present.
What is cervical mucus?
Cervical mucus is a hydrogel produced by the cervix . Before a woman ovulates rising estrogen levels trigger her cervix to produce mucus. In a healthy menstrual cycle, a woman will notice that her mucus changes from a white/lotiony type consistency to a clear, stretchy consistency like that of egg whites. She’ll notice a slippery sensation when she goes to the bathroom or she might just feel wet throughout the day.
Unfortunately, many women don’t know that cervical mucus is a normal and healthy part of the menstrual cycle. I’ve spoken to countless women who thought that there was something wrong with them and ended up in a doctor’s office every month thinking they had a yeast infection or some abnormal bacterial overgrowth. Since many of their doctors didn’t know that cervical mucus was normal either, they would often end up getting tests that would keep coming back normal.
How do I check for cervical mucus?
Many women first learn about fertility awareness through a few great books on the topic. Taking Charge of Your Fertility by Toni Weschler, and Garden of Fertility by Katie Singer, are two of the most common resources. Although some methods of fertility awareness will encourage you to check internally for cervical mucus (i.e. placing your finger inside your vagina and trying to observe cervical mucus from the source), this method often leads to confusion. Many fertility awareness instructors teach how to check externally for two important reasons.
- When you check externally it is easy to identify the difference between a “dry” day and a “mucus” day.
- When you check externally it is actually possible to tell the difference between vaginal cell slough and cervical mucus
Many women who use the fertility awareness method often feel that if they don’t check internally they won’t see anything. But the thing is, that your vagina is always moist, and when you check internally you’ll always find something. This will often leave you thinking you have mucus every day and overestimating the number of days in your fertile window. When you’re in your fertile window and your cervix is producing mucus it has to come out, and you’ll be able to see it at her vulva. It’s gravity! But you will have to actually check for mucus throughout the day to see it.
Here are the steps for checking mucus externally…
- Use a piece of toilet paper folded flat
- As you wipe pay attention to the sensation you feel. Does it feel dry, smooth, or slippery?
- Look at your toilet paper…do you see any mucus you can pick up?
- If you have mucus pick it up and see if it stretches between your fingers
- Then mark down what you see! 
Pretty simple I know. The most important part is to get in the habit of checking for mucus throughout the day. Whenever you go to the bathroom before you take a bath before you go to bed…basically whenever your pants are down. This is where learning from a certified fertility awareness instructor comes in handy. To get the full effectiveness of the fertility awareness method, it is best to learn from an instructor so that you can gain confidence in using the method correctly, and get your head around this whole cervical mucus thing once and for all!
What else do I need to know about cervical mucus?
Well, you might not see any “egg white mucus”. Many women now think that egg white quality mucus is the “gold standard”, but many women will experience a wet sensation and have slippery mucus that just doesn’t stretch. Wet slippery mucus is definitely fertile, it just has such a high water content that it doesn’t stretch. Other women may not produce cervical mucus at all and this can be for a variety of reasons. In a healthy cycle, a woman would expect to see at least one day of clear, stretchy or slippery mucus. If she has no mucus that is definitely an indication of suboptimal fertility because it can interfere with her ability to conceive.
Whether mucus is “creamy” “sticky” or “egg white” it is all fertile. There is no such thing as “less fertile” and “more fertile mucus”. It would be kind of like saying a woman is “less pregnant” or “more pregnant”. Since sperm can survive in all cervical mucus, all mucus is considered to be fertile!
With that being said, if you are trying to get pregnant the best time to have sex with your partner is on the days that you have clear, stretchy and slippery (lubricative) mucus! Clear, stretchy and slippery mucus tells you that your estrogen levels are high and that your body is gearing up for ovulation. So forget the ovulation predictor kits, and have sex when you see mucus!
Now I want to hear from you! Have you seen your cervical mucus before? How do you check for mucus? Join the conversation in the comments below!
1. Morphological characterization of different human cervical mucus types using light and scanning electron microscopy. Human Reproduction, Oxford Journal
2. The Fifth Vital Sign: Master Your Cycles & Optimize Your Fertility. Lisa Hendrickson-Jack
Great to see this! I teach the Creighton Model Sytem for FertilityCare! All about cervical mucus and observations. Effective to achieve, avoid and monitor gynecological health. Should be in all common health / reproductive education for men and women!
I teach the billings ovulation method and some of this information goes against what I teach, but it is very informative. It is true how many women are not aware of the importance of the mucus. The billings is based on the sensation of the mucus at the vulva. You don’t necessarily have to see it because you should feel it.
Fertility Friday says
Yes the Justisse method is different to Billings. The observational routine is based on the wiping technique not just how you feel. It can be helpful to be aware of the feeling, but it is not relied on as an “observation” in the same way as it is in billings. I have had numerous fertility awareness instructors on my podcast who teach different methods. Ultimately we are all working to increase body literacy and help women to understand their cycles although our tool boxes contain a few different items!
Good day ladies! Pls why do ewcm dry up after having sex?
Hi. I loved the work you are doing to help empower women in getting to know the language of their fertility and health. The mucus signs can be as simple and obvious as : dry days/ wet days, infertile/fertile, have sex according to your procreative intentions (I.e. to achieve OR avoid pregnancy). But I find this article a little oversimplified. I’m not an instructor, but I learned the Creighton Model a few years ago, and I think it’s important to include in your instructions to wipe from front to back. And to pay special attention to the sensation felt as the paper goes across the perennial body. For women who experience very little mucus and have trouble being able to pick anything up off the tissue to test stretchability, having an awareness of the sensation is key. If you have a lubricative, slippery sensation, chart that. Another thing to note, is that there are many women who don’t experience dry days. I worry that they will think they cannot use FAM. I have chronic discharge (meaning I find mucus in my underwear and on the tulissue every single day of my cycle) – needless to say I was extremely frustrated when i first started learning to chart. While i haven’t gotten to the root cause (possibly Candida overgrowth), i have been able to figure out (from the unique language of my own body), which days are cervical mucis days, and which days are vaginal dishcharge days. Though confusing at first, he difference is very obvious to me now. As you say, working with a fertility care practitioner, to learn how to properly check for, interpret, and chart your mucus is going to give you the confidence you need for that high percentage of effectiveness… not all mucus/discharge is fertile. You can learn FAM even with irregular cycles, and daily mucus.
Fertility Friday says
Note that there are different methods for checking for mucus, and multiple different fertility awareness based methods of charting. This article is intended to provide a general understanding. If you would like additional information, you are welcome to watch my free 3 part video series on fertility awareness charting, FAM 101. You are welcome to grab a copy of my book, The Fifth Vital Sign; I am also a certified FAM instructor, and you can check out my programs here. In other words, I have you covered if you need more information beyond this article.
Thank you for this! So many places on the internet discuss fertile and infertile CM. I miscarried in June 19’… it was my first try and we got pregnant right away in April. Now, I am having trouble getting pregnant again. OPKs look negative, this is my first-month doing BBT, and I am noticing that I have very little to no CM. I have the Femometer app and it has been helpful to keep track of everything. This is my first month legitimately using it. I saw a TCM doc and they did a hormone check which came back that my progesterone was lower so I supplement w/ a topical progesterone two weeks before my period every month. Its been about 3 months now. Could this be affecting my CM production? I bought Preseed the sperm-friendly lubricant and we used it last month with no luck as yet.
Hello, Just curious- how long do you see various women having the fertile cervical mucus for? For instance do women often have it for up to 5-7 days? Do most women see it for more like 1-3? (Asking because it’s not uncommon for me to have it for 5days, sometimes more, and it’s definitely cervical mucus, egg white, clear, stretchy, abundant). Just curious what the average time might be.
Thanks for your website and podcast and all the lovely info.
I am pretty new to the fertility awareness method. I have been trying this method to assess mucus and over the course a cycle I never got anything on my tissue when wiping. I did notice discharge in my underwear a few days. I am wondering if I am missing a part of the wiping technique? Am I supposed to hold the labia apart?
Any suggestions would be great! Thank you!