A reader asks, "I've read that cervical mucus becomes like raw egg white a few days before ovulation. I've been checking my cervical mucus, but I seem to have egg white or very watery cervical mucus many times throughout my cycle, not just for a few days in the middle. Can you have too much cervical mucus?"
It's normal to have one to five days of egg white cervical mucus just before ovulation, and also to have another patch of egg-white or watery cervical mucus just before menstruation begins.
However, if you notice several patches of egg white cervical mucus throughout your cycle, or you notice egg-white cervical mucus for over a week, this can be a sign of a hormonal imbalance.
Normally, a peak in the hormones LH and estrogen lead to an increase and change in your cervical mucus. This peak comes just before ovulation. Some women may have several peaks in the hormones LH and estrogen before ovulation finally occurs. You might think of it like hormonal misfires, as the body attempts to trigger ovulation but is unable to do so.
Sometimes, women with PCOS may have several patches of fertile cervical mucus throughout their cycle, making ovulation detection with this method tricky. Women may also notice several patches or extended days of fertile cervical mucus if they have a thyroid problem or if they are under a lot of stress, along with other potential causes.
While fertile cervical mucus can normally let you know ovulation is coming, if you have several patches of fertile quality cervical mucus throughout your cycle, it can be difficult to know which (if any) of these patches indicates impending ovulation.
If you chart your body basal temperature, the patch that really did precede ovulation will be followed by a sustained temperature rise. Since by the time you see the rise in temperature, it'll be too late to have sex to get pregnant, it's best to treat each patch of fertile quality cervical mucus as if it may be just before ovulation and have sex with your partner.
Or, an easier and perhaps less stressful choice, is to have sex a few times a week, regardless of your cervical mucus changes. (More on how often to have sex to get pregnant.)
Confusing Sexual Arousal or Semen with Fertile Cervical Mucus
If you check your cervical mucus just before, during, or after sex, you can confuse the normal increase in vaginal fluids that comes with sexual arousal with the fertile cervical mucus that comes before ovulation. It's better not to check your cervical fluids around the time that you have sex for this reason.
Also, it can be easy to confuse semen with watery cervical mucus. This means that even the morning after sex, you might confuse the two.
While differentiating between leftover semen from sex the night before and fertile cervical mucus is tricky, one thing you can notice is how stretchy the cervical mucus is. While semen is watery, it will not stretch like fertile cervical mucus. Egg white cervical mucus is also more mucus-like, while leftover semen is thinner in consistency.
Cervical Mucus vs. Vaginal Infection
Another possibility is that you're confusing fertile cervical mucus for a vaginal infection. Healthy cervical mucus will be clear or slightly yellowish, while gray or green discharge can be a sign of infection.
If the vaginal discharge is more like cottage-cheese, has a bad smell, or you're experiencing itchiness or irritation, these can also be signs of infection. It's best to see your doctor for a check-up and possible treatment.
American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. Patient Education Pamphlet: Vaginitis: Causes and Treatments. Accessed December 31, 2009. http://www.acog.org/~/media/For%20Patients/faq028.ashx?dmc=1&ts=20120128T1456320578
Weschler, T. (2002). Taking Charge of Your Fertility (Revised Edition) . United States of America: HarperCollins Publishers Inc.