%% - [ ] what are the different types of mucus? #someday #update - [ ] Why does CM change? #someday #update - [ ] What is the function of the different types of cm? #someday #update - [ ] plays a key role in the female reproductive cycle #someday #update - [ ] helps to fertilize the egg and transports sperm to the fallopian tube #someday #update - [ ] cervical mucus helps to nourish sperm #someday #update - [ ] provide a medium for motility #someday #update - [ ] and provide a defense against foreign bodies #someday #update - [ ] [[during the late follicular phase cervical mucous increases by 30 times the amount of the early follicular phase]] #someday #update %% # Observing Your Cervical Mucus >[!example] 01 Feb 2023 #articles It's essential to begin [[The Beginners Guide to Menstrual Cycle Tracking|tracking your menstrual cycle with the basics]]. As you grow more familiar with your cycle, however, using more advanced tracking techniques can help you gain a deeper [[Why Ovulation Is the Key to Optimal Health|understanding of ovulation]]. These techniques include: 1. observing your cervical mucus 2. [[Tracking Your Basal Body Temperature|tracking your basal body temperature]] 3. [[Monitoring Your Cervix|monitoring your cervix]] In this article I will discuss monitoring your cervical mucus, what it is, how it changes throughout your menstrual cycle, and how to track it. I will also discuss how to determine ovulation using cervical mucus, how to make sense of what you find, and what factors may influence differences in your mucus production. >[!Example] Contents > - [[#What is Cervical Mucus?|What is Cervical Mucus?]] > - [[#How cervical mucus changes throughout the menstrual cycle|How cervical mucus changes throughout the menstrual cycle]] > - [[#How to monitor your cervical mucus|How to monitor your cervical mucus]] > - [[#How to chart cervical mucus on paper|How to chart cervical mucus on paper]] > - [[#How to tell if you’ve ovulated with cervical mucus|How to tell if you’ve ovulated with cervical mucus]] > - [[#Factors that interfere with the production of cervical mucus|Factors that interfere with the production of cervical mucus]] > - [[#Cervical mucus is not gross and disgusting|Cervical mucus is not gross and disgusting]] > - [[#Final Thoughts|Final Thoughts]] ## What is Cervical Mucus? %% [[cervical mucus is produced by the cervix]] %% %% [[cervical mucus plays a key role in the female reproductive cycle]] %% Cervical mucus (CM) is a normal body fluid that is produced by the cervix and the vagina, specifically related to fertility, that changes throughout our menstrual cycle in response to fluctuating hormones. This means that the appearance of our cervical mucus varies during different stages of our cycle which can help us to identify what stage of the cycle we are in as well as which hormones are dominating.[^1] ## How cervical mucus changes throughout the menstrual cycle ![[cervical mucus changes.excalidraw.png]] Let’s start at the beginning with menstruation. Obviously this is when we are bleeding so there will be no cervical mucus due to low oestrogen levels. No oestrogen, no cervical mucus. After our period, chance are we have little or even no CM. Our oestrogen is still on the low end after all. Then as as oestrogen begins to rise during the follicular phase, our CM becomes more creamy, a bit like hand lotion. As oestrogen peaks around ovulation (our fertile window), CM becomes more watery, slippery,  stretchy and raw egg-white in consistency. This can be referred to as ‘peak’ mucus or fertile-quality CM. After ovulation, during our luteal phase, progesterone rises, producing cervical mucus that is thicker, more tacky, and feels gummy. This mucus is designed to create a ‘plug’ in the cervix. As a result, this means that we will have little CM for the remainder of our luteal phase One thing to point out though is that during the middle of the luteal phase, we may experience a wetter quality fluid. This is due to the rise in oestrogen that happens during this time and is *not* a sign of ovulation.[^2] ## How to monitor your cervical mucus Monitoring your cervical mucus is simple to do. However when you first start it can be difficult to understand what you are looking at. It's only after you have tracked and paid attention to your cervical mucus over a full cycle can you be certain of the changes that take place. After washing your hands, gently insert a finger about half an inch into the vagina. Remove the finger and note the colour, texture, and general appearance of the fluid. Putting your finger and thumb together and then pulling apart can help you identify between the egg white texture of the fertile quality mucus and the 'gumminess' of the luteal phase mucus. Make a note of what you see. Many apps allow you to input the data easily or alternatively you can make a note on [[Free Menstrual Cycle Tracking Templates & Guide|any paper charts that you keep]]. ## How to chart cervical mucus on paper This is where I tend to use letters to help me keep track of my CM patterns. This way it’s easy for me to understand and see how things change throughout my cycle. These are the terms that I use but once you get to know your own body you will have your own ways of describing what you see. | **Charting** | **Meaning** | **When it happens** | | ------------ | --------------------- | --------------------------------------------------------------------- | | D | Dry | 1. After your period has ended & before oestrogen rises & 2. Luteal Phase | | C | Creamy | Follicular phase when oestrogen starts to rise | | E | Egg white consistency | As oestrogen begins to peak around ovulation | | G | Gummy | Luteal phase as progesterone increases (creating a mucus plug) | | W | Wet | Luteal phase when oestrogen rises again | Make sure that you check each and every day to get to know your own CM patterns, the consistency, the amounts, and how it changes throughout your cycle. Once you do you will be able to see what is normal for you, identify what phase you are in and understand your body so much more. ## How to tell if you’ve ovulated with cervical mucus Firstly, you need to identify your ‘peak’ day. This is the last day of fertile quality CM, that raw egg-white type CM. It is NOT the day with the most CM. Obviously this means that you are only able to determine your peak day in retrospect as it is the day before you dry up or your CM becomes tacky or gummy. Once CM changes consistency after the peak day, or you are ‘dry’ for 3 days after peak day, then this is a sign that you have (probably) ovulated.[^3] Although I tend to use CM to help me identify what is going on with my oestrogen levels, I do not use CM to confirm ovulation on it's own. I only feel confident in confirming when I combine it with my [[Tracking Your Basal Body Temperature|Basal Body Temperature readings]]. ## Factors that interfere with the production of cervical mucus There are many factors that interfere with the production of our CM: - Hormonal contraceptives - Cervical conditions - Procedures to vagina & cervix - Certain medications (eg antihistamines, which dry out literally everything!) If you don’t produce much CM around ovulation, please, do not panic. Remember that everyone is different. Our CM is produced in response to our rising oestrogen which all of us experience differently. Also remember that our CM production declines with age as our oestrogen levels drop. So if you’re perimenopausal you’ll likely have less CM or more ‘dry’ days than you did a few years ago. ## Cervical mucus is not gross and disgusting I thought it was really interesting how, after I posted about cervical mucus changing throughout a woman’s cycle on social media, how many people contacted me and thanked me for posting. For highlighting that we are not ‘gross’ or ‘disgusting’ but are, in actual fact, normal. And for the record, those who contacted me were all fully grown women who didn’t know this. Who felt ashamed that they didn’t know. Who questioned why we're not taught this growing up. Which is exactly why we need to learn this now so that we can educate those (especially young girls) around us. Our bodies, our thoughts, feelings and behaviours are nothing to be ashamed of. And they are certainly not ‘gross’ or ‘disgusting’. ## Final Thoughts By tracking your cervical mucus with the methods outlined in this article, you can gain a better understanding of your body and ovulation, and be empowered to make informed choices about your reproductive and hormonal health. Additionally, it is important to remember that our bodies are not ‘gross’ or ‘disgusting’. And I hope that by sharing this knowledge women can feel empowered to talk openly and without shame about their bodies and their health. After all, cervical mucus is normal for over 50% of the population. >[!Example] Sources > > [Fertility Awareness Mastery Charting Workbook by Lisa Hendrickson-Jack](https://www.amazon.co.uk/Fertility-Awareness-Mastery-Charting-Workbook/dp/199942803X) > > [The Fifth Vital Sign by Lisa Hendrickson-Jack](https://www.amazon.co.uk/Fifth-Vital-Sign-Optimize-Fertility/dp/B07R5QKNNY/ref=sr_1_1?crid=76TCDMR787KA&keywords=The+Fifth+Vital+Sign+by+Lisa+Hendrickson-Jack&qid=1686915244&s=books&sprefix=the+fifth+vital+sign+by+lisa+hendrickson-jack%2Cstripbooks%2C132&sr=1-1) > > %%[[(Odeblad, 1994)]]%% Odeblad, E., 1994. The discovery of different types of cervical mucus and the Billings Ovulation Method. Bulletin of the Natural Family Planning Council of Victoria. Available at": [LINK](https://www.factsaboutfertility.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/01/Odeblad_DiscoveryZofZCervicalZMucus_1994.pdf) > > %%[[(Su et al., 2017)]]%% Su, H.W., Yi, Y.C., Wei, T.Y., Chang, T.C., Cheng, C.M., 2017. Detection of ovulation, a review of currently available methods. Bioeng Transl Med 2, 238–246. [LINK](https://doi.org/10.1002/btm2.10058) [^1]: When oestrogen dominates, cervical mucus is more egg-white or wet in consistency. When progesterone dominates, cervical mucus becomes more gummy in texture (or even dry) as it forms the mucus plug within the cervix. [^2]: Providing you have confirmed ovulation with BBT. If your temperature hasn't risen, it could be ovulation. Hence why you need to use CM and BBT together to confirm ovulation. [^3]: Note that it is also possible to have CM without ovulating as CM is produced in response to rising oestrogen. This means that it is possible for the body to start gearing up and then back down again which is why I suggest using it alongside BBT.