October 4, 2021 | By: Dr. Patti Haebe, N.M.D
Cervical mucus is a key component when it comes to fertility. Consider cervical mucus as the substance that allows sperm to swim up through your cervix so that it can fertilize your egg after ovulation. Without it, the sperm wouldn’t be able to travel as easily. When your hormones shift, your cervical mucus changes too, and its consistency tells us a lot about what’s going on inside your body!
What should cervical mucus look like?
If you really want to know, run to your refrigerator and get out an egg and crack it open! Separate out the yolk and feel the sensation of the egg whites between your fingers. You’ll notice it is slippery, crystal clear and stretches when you pull your fingers apart. In a menstrual cycle it typically follows the pattern off “sticky- creamy- egg white- watery.” Not everyone experiences this same pattern, and it takes many women several cycles to really get the feel for observing it.
Cervical mucus (CM) is protective; it protects the body from bacteria and pathogens that could enter the uterus through the cervix. This is why fertile CM is only present near ovulation, to allow sperm and little else.
How to check for cervical mucus
Toilet tissue test: Check for cervical mucus when you use the bathroom. Wipe with a piece of toilet tissue and observe the texture, color and consistency. You can also feel it between your thumb and pointer finger, and separate your fingers slowly to look for any “stretching” of the CM. Also, consider paying attention to the sensation in your underwear; many women observe a familiar “gush” of watery CM just before their fertile mucus presents itself.
Keep in mind, vaginal secretions have to move from the cervix all the way down the vagina for you to feel it, so it’s normal to need to be up and moving before you notice it!
Cervical mucus stages
As estrogen increases and peaks before and during ovulation, CM amounts increase and change. It typically transitions from sticky, to creamy, to egg white consistency in the first half of your cycle as you approach ovulation. Learn more about the different types of cervical mucus while tracking.
After you find your LH peak and you ovulate, progesterone dominates and will also create more of the sticky-consistency mucus. Estrogen also begins to slightly rise again, and so you’ll still feel some stickiness or wetness after ovulation.
Do you have absent, abnormal or low amounts of CM?
It could mean a few things:
Estrogen, the predominant hormone in the follicular phase, is what triggers creation of fertile cervical mucus. If it is low, it can also result in low levels or absent cervical mucus. Lab testing with your doctor can check for this if it’s a concern for you.
Candidiasis is an infection from a type of yeast called Candida. Its presence when out of balance can change the quality of cervical mucus and can block sperm from getting through. It also changes the pH, which is another obstacle for sperm.
Treatments for candidiasis should always be discussed with your doctor. It will typically include a focus on your diet, eliminating sugars (alcohol, sugar, carbohydrates). They may want to add in probiotics and beneficial/friendly yeast call Saccharomyces Boulardii to crowd out the bad. Many times people will need antifungals to kill the yeast, whether it involves using herbs and/or antifungal medications from your doctor.
If you’re concerned about yeast, look for sticky, white cervical mucus that may have a yeasty smell and possibly also having discharge throughout the entire cycle. If you’ve had yeast infections in the past, this is something to keep an eye on.
Hormonal contraceptives also change cervical mucus -- that’s even how some function! In order to restore fertile CM, you must first restore proper hormonal balance! It’s typical for it to take several months for your cycles to regulate and also for your cervical mucus to regulate again after stopping hormonal contraceptives or removing hormonal IUDs.
Think you are missing CM?
Fear not -- if you still have an LH peak and a BBT spike, it means your body is likely ovulating and you still can get pregnant. However, if you’re still have trouble conceiving, absence of CM is still something you should discuss with your doctor. Learn more about the tracking methods in our blog "How to Read a Premom Ovulation & BBT Chart."
How to improve your cervical mucus
In order to produce cervical mucus, you need plenty of water! Dehydration can cause thicker, stickier mucus that is more difficult for sperm to swim through. Caffeinated products can actually dehydrate you, so limit caffeine consumption as well. Focus on quality filtered water, and if you have a reverse osmosis water filter, consider adding trace minerals back in, to ensure you are effectively absorbing the water you are consuming.
2. Herbs and nutrients
Evening primrose oil, black cohosh, dong quai, arginine and maca are known to support the follicular phase and estrogen production but should only be utilized under the care of a licensed functional medicine or naturopathic medical doctor.
3. Mucinex and N- Acetylcysteine
These two substances are considered “mucolytics,” meaning they break apart mucus bonds. This is why you may have taken them when you had sinus or lung congestion. The same thought process is applied here to cervical mucus. These substances are not necessarily proven to improve fertility outcomes and should be used under the supervision of your clinician. Learn more about if Mucinex can help you get pregnant.
4. Finally. . . good hormonal cycling!
If your CM is absent, chat with a specialist about what may be going on hormonally that’s preventing the production of CM. It may also be contributing to anovulation or irregular cycles, so cycle tracking is essential still while investigating CM.
Not sure where to start? Have more questions? Easily track all of your fertility symptoms and get answers from a fertility expert right through the free Premom app!
Dr. Patti Haebe is a results-obsessed naturopathic doctor. She specializes in pre-conception preparation, fertility and hormone optimization. She is committed to root-cause healing through therapeutic supplementation as well as targeted diet and lifestyle modifications. Her virtual practice, Ocotillo Integrative Medicine, provides integrative consultations worldwide via webcam for those looking to incorporate natural, proactive approaches to their healthcare and fertility journey. Schedule a consultation with Dr. Haebe right through your Premom app!