How you can track your fertility using the cervical mucus method

Dr Sarah Johnson

Reviewed by Dr Sarah Johnson on Apr 01, 2020

During the menstrual cycle your body goes through subtle changes, including changes to the type and amount of cervical mucus. By noting these changes it is possible to predict when you will ovulate. This method, however, requires careful observation and expert training.

1.
What is cervical mucus?

Cervical mucus, or vaginal discharge, is a fluid secreted by the cervix and shed through your vagina. This mucus helps keep the tissues in your vagina healthy, protects it against infection, and provides lubrication.  You may notice changes to quantity, color and consistency depending on where you are in your menstrual cycle, but it is usually clear or white. Abnormal discharge can be different colors and consistencies and may smell.  This type of change may indicate you have an infection so if you notice something different and are concerned you should see your doctor.  

2.
Can using the cervical mucus method help me get pregnant?

Observing changes in mucus patterns through your menstrual cycle to identify fertile days is known as the cervical mucus method.  Noting and recording these changes may help identify which are the best days to have sex for getting pregnant – your fertile days. This method, however, is difficult to master and requires expert training.  Whilst it is accessible and there is nothing you need to buy, it has been shown to be only 48-76% accurate at predicting ovulation within 1 day.1

3.
What does ovulation discharge and cervical mucus look like across your cycle?

As your hormone levels fluctuate over the course of your menstrual cycle, you may notice a change in your vaginal discharge. Your estrogen levels rise as you approach ovulation, and this promotes a change in the quantity and consistency of your mucus to make it more sperm friendly.  When you are at your most fertile, your vaginal discharge won’t be white, but rather resemble raw egg whites, and feel stretchy or watery

4.
Is it difficult to observe the changes in cervical mucus?

It is possible for you to identify changes in the consistency and quantity of your vaginal discharge throughout your cycle.  However, to effectively use the cervical mucus method to identify your fertile days it’s advisable to seek the guidance of an expert trainer.  Once trained it can still take time to recognize a pattern. Also, differences in your daily routine and your health can make it challenging to observe these changes correctly. There are a few factors that may change the appearance of vaginal discharge such as medications, sex and feminine hygiene products such as lubricants.  

Consistently monitoring your vaginal discharge and tracking it over a couple of cycles can help you understand your body better.  Using this method to identify your fertile days will require practice and time to understand it fully. Other methods to help you get pregnant are more accurate, such as home ovulation tests.  If you are trying to get pregnant you may want to learn more about ovulation and your fertility, and how to get pregnant faster

  1. Brezina PR, et al. Fertility & Sterility (2011); 95(6): 1867-78