Other than your period, it’s likely you never paid too much attention to your body before you started thinking about having a baby. Which means you may have completely missed your ovulation discharge, also known as cervical mucus.
If you’ve now noticed this fluid in your underwear or on your toilet paper, you may be wondering what exactly it means. And actually, it’s pretty clever stuff!
At the time of ovulation, some women will experience a small amount of vaginal discharge. Estrogen levels increase which causes changes to the consistency of your cervical mucus, this discharge is often a sign that your body is getting ready to ovulate or even that it’s just about to.
A guide to your ovulation discharge
Here’s a simple guide so you can quickly work out what your ovulation discharge colour and consistency means for your body and your fertile window:
Not ovulating: discharge is dry or sticky or simply just non-existent
Ovulation may be coming: discharge is creamy like a lotion
Ovulation is close: discharge is wet and watery
Ovulation is occurring: discharge is very wet, stretchy and will remind you of raw egg white
This process will then repeat again and again.
It's very important to pay attention to this discharge as it can go from being cloudy or non-existent after your period to clear and slippery. Your most fertile cervical mucus will resemble raw egg whites, and this watery mucus helps sperm swim through the cervix easier, which increases your chances of conceiving and can help you get pregnant faster.
Even if you aren’t trying to get pregnant, it is worth checking your cervical mucus to get to know your menstrual cycle. It’s actually pretty empowering, understanding exactly what your body is going through and how this might be affecting how you feel.
Alternatively, if you are trying to have a baby, this new ‘skill’ (can we call it that?) is definitely useful to have in your arsenal. You are probably already off birth control, have used our ovulation calculator, know how to check your basal body temperature (BBT) or even use ovulation tests and that’s all great! But while your BBT lets you know if and when you ovulated after it happened, your ovulation discharge changes will tell you before you ovulate, helping you to time sex on your most fertile days and increase chances of pregnancy naturally.
How to check your ovulation discharge
While you can keep an eye on your underwear for ovulation discharge, you can also check for it yourself. Here’s what to do:
Ensure your hands are washed and dried.
It’s time to get comfortable. Squat on your toilet or alternatively stand and keep one leg up on your bath or toilet seat.
Using your index or middle finger, reach one finger inside your vagina. You may not need to reach far if you’re producing a lot of cervical mucus but you’ll want to be in the general area of your cervix.
Slowly remove your finger from your vagina and take a close look at the discharge you find, observing the consistency. An easy way to do this is by rolling the fluid between your thumb and index finger. Press your fingers together and then slowly move them apart.
Follow our guide above to figure out where you are at in your menstrual cycle. If the fluid is very wet and stretchy between your fingers, resembling raw egg white, your cervical mucus is very fertile meaning ovulation is close and it’s time for some baby-making!
Cervical mucus after ovulation
Once you have finished ovulating, your body will gradually produce less cervical mucus and if you do see it, it may look cloudy and feel a bit sticky. If you're not pregnant, you will eventually notice drier cervical mucus or even none at all. However, if you are pregnant, you'll start to notice more vaginal discharge due to your rising estrogen and progesterone levels which occurs during early pregnancy. Check out these early signs of pregnancy.
A few things to note
Don’t check your ovulation discharge before or during sex as it’s easy to get confused between arousal fluids and fertile discharge as these look very similar. Additionally, checking after sex can be confusing too as it’s easy to confuse semen with cervical mucus.
Some women (many who have PCOS) experience several patches of cervical mucus throughout their menstrual cycle, making it hard to predict their ovulation dates. If this is you, it’s worth trying other methods of ovulation tracking.
If you’re on medication, bear in mind that some can dry up your ovulation discharge meaning you might not find any or as much before ovulation. In which case, use an ovulation predictor kit instead.
If you are concerned for any reason whatsoever about your ovulation discharge, do not hesitate to contact a doctor.