Cervical mucus, often abbreviated CM, may not have the most pleasant sounding name but it is an important part of your everyday bodily functions. It has huge importance to TTC couples, which is why it’s important to know how to check your cervical mucus, identify when it’s most fertile and how to improve it.
What Does Cervical Mucus Do?
It actually has multiple functions, 2 of which are most relevant to TTC couples. At points in your cycle when hormones are low and your body is not preparing for the chance of pregnancy, cervical mucus is actually designed to limit sperm health and motility. Leading up to and during ovulation (ideally, at least), fertile cervical mucus will actually help sperm move towards the egg and provide nutrients. Remember that cervical fluid and arousal fluid (what makes you “wet” during intercourse) are not the same thing. Having watery and clear arousal fluid does not necessarily mean your cervical mucus is fertile.
Identifying Fertile Cervical Mucus
Some women are highly aware of what their cervical mucus is doing every day, others have no clue unless they consciously make an effort to check. Whichever camp you’re in, it’s a good idea to check (if not track) regularly when TTC. Here’s how to make sure things are in tip-top shape down there.
Ways to Check Your Cervical Mucus
You might have to get your hands dirty to check for fertile CM. Actually, it’s best to start with clean hands because one way to check is to (carefully) reach inside your vagina with a finger. Sometimes you have to get all the way up to the cervix to find any. After producing a sample, roll it between your fingers and visually inspect it.
Another way to check your fluids is to wipe (from front to back, of course) with toilet paper. Of course, this method won’t work if you do not produce enough CM.
Whichever way you check, be sure not to do so after intercourse because your own arousal fluids and semen can dilute your sample. For the same reasons, you should avoid checking it during intercourse or any other time you are aroused. Besides, it could be kind of a mood killer!
When (and if) your body produces highly fertile cervical mucus, it is often described as egg white cervical mucus (or EWCM for short). That’s because, well, that’s what it should remind you of. Some women may not produce EWCM every cycle or at all. Fertile cervical mucus that is not like egg whites will be more watery instead.
This is what to look for in fertile cervical mucus:
- Thin and watery consistency OR stretchiness (this is for highly fertile EWCM)
- Clear color (though it may have a white or yellow tint)
- pH above 7
- Possibly sweeter scent
It should be noted that the egg whites compared to highly fertile CM are raw, and therefore not actually white.
Fertile Cervical Mucus as a Sign of Ovulation
In addition to tracking basal temperatures and other changes during a cycle, many women track their CM to identify their fertile window and ovulation days. Tracking by CM alone can lead you astray, though, as not every woman ovulates and your CM may not always accurately reflect where you are in your cycle. When performing the way we all hope it does, though, your body will produce fertile CM or EWCM in the days leading up to and during ovulation (known as your fertile window). This is because the point of fertile CM is to provide a supportive environment for sperm on their way to the egg and keep them alive for up to 6 days while waiting for an egg. There’s no point to do this if there isn’t any egg to lead them to, which is why your mucus changes throughout your cycle.
How to Improve Cervical Mucus
Now to the part most of you probably came here for. If you do not produce fertile CM, it can hinder baby-making plans. So how do you improve cervical mucus? Unfortunately, there are a lot of myths that aren’t backed by science.
Improving Cervical Mucus Consistency
Here’s the low-down on making CM more watery or egg white-esque to help sperm move towards the egg.
- Staying hydrated: Just like your skin and lips, your body will conserve water to support other vital bodily operations before sending any down there.
- Herbal remedies/Evening Primrose Oil/guaifenesin: The science behind these is weak at best, completely unfounded at worst.
Improving Cervical Mucus Quality
Things from pH to antioxidant levels affect how well sperm live and how long they last while waiting for an egg. Diet is a factor, but the specifics are where it gets fuzzy. Some women swear by eating pineapple core or grapefruit but correlation does not mean causation so this method has not been proven. The best we can do is suggest eating an overall healthy TTC diet to keep your body functioning as best it can as a whole. Avoiding too many acidic foods (like sugar and processed foods) is not only healthy, but may help keep your fertile CM’s pH levels sperm friendly.
Increasing Cervical Mucus Amounts
Many women believe the same suggestions for improving the consistency will also help with the amount. With an exception for drinking a healthy amount of water, science is equally pessimistic on both fronts. There’s also a mixed belief about prescriptions or supplements to increase estrogen, but that is not a recommended option for many women due to medical issues or side effects. Some women, perhaps because of the EWCM terminology, believe inserting raw egg whites into your vagina will help. Besides being unsanitary, that isn’t backed up by facts, either. Instead, a safe way to supplement natural fluids is to use a fertility-friendly lubricant.