Cyclical changes in the secretions produced by the cervix provide a simple way to monitor menstrual cycles and to find out when women are most fertile.Cells in the cervix make and release cervical mucus. Hormonal changes that occur during a woman's menstrual cycle affect the amount and consistency of cervical mucus.
During most of the cycle, cervical mucus acts as a barrier to sperm. However, during the fertile phase, the consistency and composition of the cervical mucus changes, and instead of being an obstacle, it favors the passage of sperm through the cervix until it reaches the ovum for fertilization.
As you approach ovulation, estrogen levels begin to rise, causing the cervix to secrete more cervical mucus. This "fertile" cervical mucus is transparent and elastic, similar to the consistency of egg white, creates a perfect means of protection for sperm, and therefore improves the chances of conceiving.
How to "interpret" changes in cervical mucus?
Cervical mucus should be controlled by touch or appearance. The most accurate way to identify changes in cervical mucus is to collect and observe a sample of mucus. To do this, with clean and dry hands, the middle or index finger is inserted into the vagina, trying to get as close as possible to the cervix. When removing the finger, the consistency of the mucus should be noted. To do this, join the finger that you have inserted into the vagina with your thumb, and then slowly separate them.The following table provides information on the characteristics of cervical mucus that can be useful to detect when ovulation occurs:
|Pre-ovulatory||Dry||There is no visible mucus.|
|Fertile||Moist or sticky||More cervical mucus. White, thick and slightly elastic. It breaks easily when stretched.|
|Very fertile||Wet||Maximum amount of flow. Watery and transparent. Consistency and color like that of a raw egg white. When stretched it can stretch several inches before it breaks.|
|Post-ovulatory||Dry||Decrease the amount of flow. Thicker consistency. Opaque, white or cream colored.|
Cervical mucus can be altered by vaginal infections, medications, and birth control. Drinking plenty of water, taking supplements beneficial to the health of the cells of the uterus will improve both the production and the quality of cervical mucus, and therefore help conception.