What is cervical mucus anyway?
You probably know your cervical mucus simply as discharge from your vagina, which is what it is visible as. But where exactly does it come from? Your cervical mucus is a secretion that is produced in the glands of the cervix (cervix uteri). During your infertile days in your cycle, the cervical mucus forms a mucus plug that closes the cervix and thus prevents sperm or bacteria from entering. This is a protective function of the body.
On your infertile days, your cervical mucus is slightly acidic so sperm and pathogens cannot survive in it for as long. On your fertile days, things look a little different, as your cervical mucus is usually alkaline to give sperm a better chance of survival. But more on this later.
Cervical mucus consists mainly of water. It also contains mucilage, amino acids, salts, enzymes, sugar, immunoglobins (antibodies), and leukocytes (white blood cells).
Cervical mucus in the follicular phase: protection for your cervix
Let’s take a closer look at the consistency of cervical mucus in the different phases of your cycle. You’ve probably already guessed it, but your hormones are of course in charge of the change in cervical mucus.
But right from the start: in the follicular phase, i.e., the phase of your cycle that begins on the first day of your period and ends with ovulation, your fertility is not high. While you have your period in the first 3-7 days, that’s it for a while with “liquid action down there”. In the following 3-4 days, you will probably only notice a dry to slightly moist feeling in your vagina, as little to no mucus is produced. The first discharge after your period may also be slightly browner and thicker. The reason therefore is that there are still remnants of period blood that get out. In contact with the air, the old blood oxidizes and takes on a brownish color. After this, a little more cervical mucus is produced again, but it is rather sticky, firm, and looks creamy. As already mentioned at the beginning, this is the phase in which the cervical mucus closes the cervix as a solid plug and thus acts as a natural barrier against bacteria and sperm.
Cervical mucus during ovulation: a natural “elevator” for sperm
As you already know, estrogen levels rise significantly before ovulation. This also causes the consistency of the cervical mucus to change. The mucus plug that formed in the first half of your cycle now dissolves and you may notice milky discharge a few days before ovulation. The closer you get to ovulation, the thinner your cervical mucus becomes until it reaches a consistency similar to that of raw egg white. The amount of mucus also increases significantly around ovulation. On the day of ovulation, your cervical mucus is then crystal clear and thin.
You may have heard of the term “spinnable cervical mucus” in this context. The cervical mucus should now be so thin that you could spin it between two fingers when you remove it. This means that a thread forms between your fingers as soon as you pull them apart.
The egg white-like discharge is also a sign that you are particularly fertile. So, if you are trying to conceive, it makes sense to monitor your cervical mucus as part of the ovulation tracking process in order to better narrow down your fertile days. This method is called the Billings method.
The fact that your cervical mucus is so watery during your fertile days is no coincidence, by the way, but is cleverly designed by nature: it allows the sperm to move around better and gives them a natural “lift” towards the uterus, so to speak, so that the fertilization of an egg is more likely. If the cervical mucus is thick, it restricts the sperm’s mobility and makes potential fertilization much more difficult.
Cervical mucus in the luteal phase: preparing for your period
After you ovulate, the estrogen levels drop again and the corpus luteum produces more of the hormone progesterone. This also means that your cervical mucus becomes thicker and firmer again and the amount produced also decreases.
Your cervical mucus is now sticky and white-yellowish and forms back into a plug at the cervix to close it again, as in the “ideal” case fertilization has already taken place. However, it can also happen that the production of cervical mucus stops completely at the beginning of your luteal phase and your vagina feels quite dry. At the end of the luteal phase and before the start of your next period, your cervical mucus will be thick and sticky and may even consist of small lumps. This is nothing to worry about, as the mucus plug first detaches from the cervix before your period begins. Only then is the excess lining of the uterus shed and bleeding begins, provided there has been no fertilization during the cycle.
Well, and then the different phases of cervical mucus start to repeat themselves.
How do I know if something is wrong with my cervical mucus?
That was a lot of input on the subject of cervical mucus and as you can see, there is no “one right consistency” as your cervical mucus, like the rest of your body, is constantly changing in the different phases of your cycle.
But what could be indicators that something might not be quite right with your body? In general, you should consult a gynecologist if your cervical mucus smells unpleasant, for example, if it has a fishy smell, looks yellowish-purulent or foamy, is extremely crumbly, or if you experience symptoms such as discomfort when urinating, itching, or burning, as these could be indicators of a vaginal infection or even a sexually transmitted disease.
Document your cervical mucus
However, it is always a good idea to document your cervical mucus during your cycle. Not only will you see the patterns described above, but you’ll also recognize right away if something is wrong with your cervical mucus because nobody knows your body better than you do. With our practical femSense app, you can not only track your symptoms and your period, but you can also easily note the consistency of your cervical mucus ranging from dry to watery. We think this is a real game changer if you want to get to know your cycle even better.
If you want, you can download the femSense app for iOS or Android right away. You can of course also follow us on Instagram if you want to find out even more exciting facts about yourself and your cycle.