The menstrual cycle is a complicated biological cycle with several phases - ovulation being one of them. In this phase, your body releases one mature egg every month that has a lifespan of 24hrs. If a sperm doesn’t meet this egg within this time, it will degenerate and come out in 2 weeks when you menstruate.
Since the window is pretty tight, you need to time it in a way that sperm cells are already in the fallopian tube when the process of ovulation happens. This is where tracking the changes in cervical mucus comes in handy.
Cervical Mucus - What is it?
Cervical mucus is basically a sticky, gel-like fluid that gets discharged from your cervix. The interesting part about this discharge is that it changes throughout your menstrual period and is a fool-proof way to know your fertile window.
Your cervical mucus changes in appearance in the different phases of your menstrual cycle (based on a menstrual cycle of 28 days). This is how you can check the viscosity of the discharge to determine the phase it is associated with.
This is usually after the 3-4 days that follow the final day of your most recent period. Usually, you won’t be seeing much cervical discharge during this phase and your vagina will seem dry.
After the fourth day, your cervical mucus would look like partially cooked egg whites. The discharge will be cloudy, sticky, and fall in white gelatinous globs. While there is a chance of you getting pregnant during this phase, you should wait for some more time to increase its probability.
The Pre-ovulation Phase
On the 7-9th day after your last period, you will notice a less sticky, egg white coloured discharge which is an indication of your increased fertility. Your doctor will advise you to have intercourse every alternate day after this to increase your chances of pregnancy.
Ovulation Phase or the Fertile Window
This is the period when you have the best chance at conception as you are the most fertile during the days leading to your ovulation. The cervical mucus at this phase is clear, slimy, and stretchy. The clear and watery fertile mucus will help the sperm travel into the Fallopian tube where it will meet the egg. You will also be able to observe an increase in the cervical mucus discharge.
The Connection Between Cervical Mucus and Fertility
The changes observed in your cervical discharge are due to the level of estrogen in your body. It is maximum around the time of ovulation and hence the nearer you are to the fertile window, the more sperm-friendly your cervical mucus becomes. What starts as a sticky and dry discharge becomes clear and watery when you are fertile.
Cervical mucus has a direct connection to your fertility and any abnormalities in it may be due to:
• A side-effect of any medication for any chronic condition.
• The contraceptive pills you may have just stopped using. Your cervical mucus would be dry and sticky when you are on pills or have just stopped using it.
• Old age.
• Low levels of estrogen.
• A side-effect of fertility drugs prescribed for stimulating ovulation.
Your cervical mucus is one of the easiest ways of knowing when your body is the most fertile. While your basal temperature only helps you predict your ovulation, the cervical discharge will help you predict your fertile window which is more important when you are trying to conceive.