Fertile cervical mucus is a clue that ovulation is coming. To get pregnant, timing intercourse before ovulation is important. If you can detect when your cervical mucus is most fertile, you can predict ovulation and time sex for pregnancy.
While ovulation can be tracked by taking your basal body temperature (BBT) each morning, a BBT chart will only confirm ovulation after it occurs. (BBT charting involves taking your temperature at the same time every morning, before you get up, and marking this baseline temperature on a chart or graph. When the temperature rises at least 0.4 F, and remains raised, this indicates ovulation.) After ovulation happens, it's too late for baby-making sex.
However, if you learn to track your cervical mucus, you may be able to predict ovulation before it happens, and time sex accordingly.
Some women may feel squeamish about checking their own cervical mucus, but it's really an empowering way to monitor your body's changes and help you get pregnant.
Ovulation and Cervical Mucus
As ovulation approaches, your cervical mucus (sometimes abbreviated on BBT charts as CM) changes from a consistency not-so-kind to sperm, to a more fertile variety that sperm can survive and swim through better. Right after ovulation, the cervical mucus changes back to the less fertile kind.
While everyone's body is different, the general changes that cervical mucus go through are dry or sticky, to creamy, to wet, to a raw egg white consistency, and then, back to dry and sticky.
When your cervical mucus is in the wet or egg white consistency stage, ovulation is approaching. This is the best time to have sex, if you want to get pregnant.
How to Check Your Cervical Mucus:
First, wash and dry your hands well.
Find a comfortable position, either by sitting on the toilet, squatting, or standing up and putting one leg up on the bathtub edge or toilet seat.
Reach one finger inside your vagina; your index or middle finger is probably best. (Be careful not to scratch yourself.) Depending on how much cervical mucus you're producing, you may not need to reach so far, but getting a sample from near your cervix is ideal.
Remove your finger from your vagina and observe the consistency of whatever mucus you find. Do this by both looking at the mucus and rolling what you find between two fingers (usually your thumb and index finger). Also, try pressing your fingers together and then slowly moving them apart.
- If what you find seems sticky, or findings are scant, you're probably not ovulating yet.
- If what you find is creamy, ovulation may be coming, but not just yet.
- If what you find is wet, watery, and slightly stretchy, ovulation is very likely close. Find time for some baby-making sex.
- If what you find is very wet, stretches between your fingers for an inch or more, and resembles raw egg white, your cervical mucus is very fertile. Ovulation is right around the corner, and now is the ideal time for intercourse.
If you are charting your BBT, you should mark down on your chart your cervical mucus findings. Abbreviations often used are S for sticky, C for creamy, W for wet, and EW for egg-white cervical mucus.
Don't check your cervical mucus during or right after sex, or when you're feeling sexually aroused.
You can also check your cervical mucus by looking at the toilet paper or your underwear, but sometimes you can get a better sample by reaching inside, as described above.
If you have trouble finding anything, checking your cervical mucus after a bowel movement may be easier. (Don't forget to wash your hands well.)
Some women, especially those with PCOS, have several patches of fertile-looking cervical mucus throughout their cycle. If this is your situation, predicting ovulation by tracking cervical mucus might not work well for you. Taking your BBT will help you pinpoint which patch of fertile mucus was related to ovulation.
Some drugs, including antihistamines and, ironically, Clomid, can dry up your cervical mucus. In this case, you might not find as much fertile cervical mucus before ovulation.
If you never or rarely notice wet or egg-white consistency cervical mucus, let your doctor know. Infertility can sometimes be caused by something referred to as hostile cervical mucus.
Some women notice that their cervical mucus becomes wet or almost egg-white like again right before menstruation. Obviously, this isn't a sign of impending ovulation.
A day or two after sexual intercourse, you may confuse semen with wet cervical mucus. With experience, you can learn how to differentiate the two. But for the purposes of getting pregnant, assume that you may be approaching ovulation and mark your calendar or chart accordingly.
More on how to get pregnant:
- All About Cervical Mucus
- Signs of Ovulation
- How to Get Pregnant: For Beginners
- How to Have a Baby When You've Been Trying for Awhile
- How to Get Pregnant Faster
- A Complete Guide to Baby Making Sex
- How to Be Happier When Trying to Conceive
- Take a Fertility Quiz
Would you like to receive trying to conceive tips and fertility information every week? Sign up for a free fertility newsletter here.