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Cervical Mucus: A Complete Guide to what you can expect

Written by Elizabeth Buescher, Gynecologist

Your cervical mucus can tell you a lot about what is going on inside your body — hormonally and physically. This is why it is important to keep track of your cervical and vaginal mucus so you can identify problems that may be arising or can identify when you are most fertile. Knowing what is going on with your cervical mucus can be very important, especially when it comes to identifying infections and staging your cervical mucus.

Cervical Mucus Stages

Many women wonder if their cervical mucus is normal or not. For example, what is a normal color for cervical mucus? Cervical mucus can be many colors including: yellow, white, brown, pink-tinged, bloody, green or orange. Each of these colors can mean something different. Healthy cervical mucus can be clear and stringy, especially during ovulation. It can also be yellow or pale creamy colored, especially after ovulation.

Abnormal cervical mucus, indicating the possibility of infection include mucus that is frothy, green, pink-tinged or orange. Several diseases can change the color and character of the cervical mucus, so that when you see these color or character changes, you should be prompted to see your doctor so that you can get an appropriate treatment.

Let’s take a look at some vaginal infections so you can tell if it is time to seek medical attention if your cervical mucus changes:


  • Candida vaginitis. In this situation, the cervical mucus changes from being creamy to rather chunky or clumpy, and whitish to yellow in color. You will likely have to itch, and the mucus will look like cottage cheese. The cervical mucus will likely be excessive enough to stain your underwear. If you have thick white discharge of any kind, you should consider that this might mean there is a Candida infection and should seek medical advice.


  • Trichomonas. This can lead to green vaginal discharge although many women report the color to be yellowish-green. The mucus is usually thin and will have a bad smell. As this is a sexually transmitted disease, you will need to seek medical attention and treat the infection with antibiotics. Your sexual partner should be dealt with as well so that you don’t get the infection back again.


  • Group B Streptococcus. This is not necessarily a sexually transmitted disease although it can be passed from one sexual partner to the next. It is really only dangerous during the latter part of the pregnancy when the infection can pass from the mother to the newborn child as it passes through the birth canal, leading to a severe infection in the infant.
  • Chlamydia. Chlamydia is a sexually transmitted disease that may or may not give symptoms in a woman who has it. The vaginal mucus may not change or will be white or milky, and there will be an increase in the amount of mucus. There may be itching or burning. Because it can lead to infertility issues in women, it should be screened for whenever any other sexually transmitted disease is found or if the male partner is known to have Chlamydia.


  • Bacterial Vaginosis. This is a change in cervical mucus and vaginal discharge that turns the discharge into a creamy gray color with a fishy odor. It is relatively common in women and doesn’t have to be a sexually transmitted disease. Antibiotics can help eliminate the fishy odor and can turn the vaginal mucus into a normal creamy white color again.Non-infectious changes in cervical mucus can happen at the end of pregnancy when the mucus plug is discharged from the cervix as it begins to dilate and thin out. The mucus is thick and looks like a pink tinged jelly like substance. It can come out all at once or happen over a period of a few days. A cervical polyp can also lead to pink-tinged or bloody vaginal mucus when it becomes irritated during sexual intercourse. Cervical polyps are usually completely harmless but can be removed if the get irritated often. During period times, the cervical mucus cannot really be seen because of the vaginal blood but, when it is seen, it is usually relatively clear and not thick. Cervical cancer can also lead to changes in cervical mucus. If you have heavy discharge that is pink-tinged or bloody, consider seeing your doctor about getting a Pap test to check for abnormal cervical cells.


What is cervical mucus?

Normal cervical mucus is made from glands in the cervix that secrete jelly like substance during ovulation. It also consists of cells that have broken down within the vagina and cervix and are just being sloughed off as part of the normal process of cell turnover in the cervix.

What causes cervical mucus? Hormones during the fertile years and during pregnancy are major causes of cervical mucus. Most women during their fertile years will have some degree of cervical mucus, although, after menopause, the vagina can become dry, and there will be no cervical mucus changes from ovulation. If you experience a lot of cervical mucus, you can always wear a thin pad so that it doesn’t stain your underwear and so that you can change the pad to feel fresh every so often.

How to Check Cervical Mucus as Part of the Rhythm Method of Birth Control

Some women chart their cervical mucus throughout the cycle. During the cycle, the cervical mucus changes so that it can be used to identify when the most fertile time during the cycle is and when the woman is no longer fertile. These are the major changes you should note during the cycle.


  • The first half of cycle. The cervical mucus is lotion like and whitish in color. It is not particularly heavy and does not change much until the time of ovulation, although it may increase in quantity as the estrogen levels increase in the first half of the cycle.


  • At ovulation. This is when the woman is most fertile. The cervical mucus changes very drastically and the quality changes so as to facilitate the passage of sperm up into the cervical canal. You can tell when you are most fertile because there will be lots of stringy, clear, stretchy mucus that you can stretch between your thumb and forefinger. Your underwear will likely be wet when this type of cervical mucus occurs, and you can use this as a method of birth control or to determine your fertility status. If you are experiencing this kind of snot-like vaginal secretion, you can avoid sexual intercourse if you don’t want to become pregnant, or you can have more sex during this time if you are trying to get pregnant.


  • After ovulation. The cervical mucus changes drastically again as ovulation ends and the last half of the cycle occurs. Progesterone dominates this period of time although there is a lot of estrogen as well. The cervical mucus will be thick, not stringy and relatively sticky in consistency. It can be white or yellow in color and may stain your underwear. It will get heavier during implantation of the zygote has implanted during pregnancy but it can get heavier at the end of the cycle, even if you didn’t become pregnant. Sometimes, the cervical mucus can be pink tinged or bloody during implantation as blood from the implantation site leaks out into the vaginal space.
    Women can use changes in their cervical mucus as a way of practicing birth control. By regularly checking the cervical mucus, a woman can tell whether or not she is fertile and when pregnancy is unlikely. It takes practice to know the different stages of cervical mucus and you need to know that this method of birth control is not as effective as say, using birth control pills or an IUD. Still, the types of vaginal mucus can determine whether or not you are fertile or infertile at any given point in time during the menstrual cycle.

What does “Egg White Cervical Mucus” mean?

This is basically another name for the cervical mucus that occurs during ovulation. It is called egg white cervical mucus because it has the appearance of egg whites and is stretch and stringy like egg white albumin is. This type of cervical mucus allows for the passage of sperm up through the cervical canal so a spermatozoon can fertilize the egg. When this fertile cervical mucus goes away, the cervical mucus is no longer optimal for the passage of sperm. It becomes yellow to white in color and it is no longer stretchy. Instead it is thick and creamy, not conducive to the passage of sperm. The egg then degenerates if it is not fertilized and a pregnancy does not occur.

Cervical Mucus Cycle Monitoring

In order to be able to use cervical mucus cycle monitoring, the woman must understand what does cervical mucus mean during the various stages of the menstrual cycle. This involves checking the cervical mucus by putting a finger into the vaginal canal and analyzing the cervical mucus. If it is white and thin or watery, this means she is at the beginning of the cycle and is mostly under the influence of estrogen that is preparing the uterine lining for implantation, should the egg become fertilized.

Rub the mucus between your thumb and forefinger. Is it sticky, thick, clumpy, white or stringy? These are things that can tell where you are in the cycle. At about the fourteenth day after the beginning of the menstrual period (which is arbitrarily set at “day 1” of the cycle, the mucus a woman gets will turn clear and will resemble egg whites. It will be stretchy and about one to two inches of mucus can be stretched between the thumb and forefinger. This type of vaginal mucus acts like a “highway” for the spermatozoa to travel through the vaginal and cervical milieu and up into the uterus and Fallopian tubes, where a spermatozoon can fertilize the waiting egg and begin a pregnancy. Without this stringy, egg-white appearing vaginal mucus, the sperm has a difficult time passing through the cervical canal and fertilization cannot take place.

Understanding the Cervical Mucus Cycle

It may take months of practice for you to understand the cervical mucus cycle. During this time, you should consider practicing another form of birth control that doesn’t involve hormones, such as a diaphragm, spermicidal jelly, or condoms. Condoms are perhaps the best method because they do not change the cervical mucus at all and the semen is collected out of the way of the cervix in the condom.

Check the cervical mucus every day during the cycle. After ovulation, the egg-white cervical mucus will disappear, only to be replaced by a sticky white or yellow vaginal mucus that will not stretch between the thumb and forefinger. Instead, it will just stick to the thumb and forefinger without any kind of stretching. This means that the spermatozoa will not be able to travel to the waiting egg and the egg will degenerate. It is primarily the progesterone in the ovarian follicle that accounts for this kind of sticky cervical mucus. When the follicle degenerates on about the 28th day of the cycle, the progesterone drops to a much lower level and the cervical mucus is back to being under estrogenic control.

After a few months, you should be able to evaluate your cervical mucus in just a few seconds and will be able to tell whether or not you are fertile or infertile. It is not an exact science but, in women who do not want to use hormonal methods of birth control or who, for religious reasons, only want to use the rhythm method of birth control, you should be able to tell when you are most fertile and when you are not fertile.

You need to remember that the egg only lasts for fertilization for about twenty four hours but sperm can live in the vagina for up to five days. This means that you can have intercourse for up to five days before the cervical mucus becomes “fertile” and pregnancy is possible.

How to use Fertile Cervical Mucus to avoid Pregnancy or to get the Gender you Want

The rhythm method depends on understanding the length of time the sperm and egg last inside the body and on what the cervical mucus means at any given point in time. For example, you are not likely to get pregnant during the time of menses because the uterus is shedding and is not favorable for implantation. As the estrogen level increases in the first half of the menstrual cycle, the bleeding stops and the cervical mucus is creamy, white or yellow, and relatively thin or watery. The uterine lining builds up during this time under the influence of the estrogen dominance.

Then, at about the 13th to 14th day of the cycle, the cervical mucus becomes stringy and stretchy, and clear in color. Any sperm left in the vagina or cervix at that time can technically result in a pregnancy. Female spermatozoa tend to live longer than male spermatozoa but male spermatozoa tend to move faster through this fertile cervical mucus.

If intercourse occurs at the time of ovulation when the cervical mucus is at its peak fertility, there is a slightly higher risk of having a boy. If the intercourse occurred earlier than that and sperm is waiting to travel up the cervical canal, there is a statistical deviation toward having a girl. It means having intercourse a few days before the cervical mucus changes to the fertile kind so that more female sperm are left to fertilize the egg. You need to avoid having sex right at the time of ovulation if you want to have a girl because the male spermatozoa tend to overtake the female spermatozoa and you have a higher chance of having a boy.

Bear in mind that none of this can be construed as a hard and fast rule. You can plan everything right and still get the opposite gender you were hoping for. It is all about statistics and about which spermatozoa live longer and swim faster in the female body. Anything can happen.

What does Watery Cervical Mucus Mean?

If the cervical mucus is watery, it can mean that there is a fistula or hole between the bladder and the vagina so that the cervical mucus is watered down by the steady leakage of urine. This can occur after a particularly difficult vaginal delivery in which forceps were used or after a surgical procedure on the cervix or vagina in which there was infection or a puncture wound to the bladder.

Watery cervical mucus can also mean elevated estrogen levels. Estrogen causes an increase in the amount of white or watery cervical mucus. Every women is different in the amount of hormones produced by the ovary and in the receptors on the cervix that respond to the estrogen in the system. Some women simply have more watery cervical mucus than others and it doesn’t usually impact one’s ability to get pregnant or the amount of buildup in the uterus as a result of the estrogen stimulus.

If you find yourself with more watery vaginal secretions when compared to other women, it pays to wear a light cotton pad to soak up the watery secretions. This can help prevent irritation of the vulva from constant moisture. Try to use unscented pads as there can be allergies to the scent of those pads that carry a scent. Do not use talcum powder to counteract the watery cervical mucus. This only causes thick clumps of vaginal secretions and can irritate the vulvar area even more.

How to Increase Cervical Mucus

It is important to be as well hydrated as possible during ovulation, when the cervical mucus needs the moisture to allow for sperm to travel better through the reproductive pathway toward fertilizing the egg. Drink at least 64 ounces of fluid each day, preferably in the form of water although milk can be substituted for some of the glasses you drink. Milk adds calcium, which is good for any impending pregnancy you may subsequently have. Even if you don’t get pregnant, calcium can help keep your bones strong and healthy.

You can purchase nutrient supplements that are designed to increase the amount of cervical mucus. One supplement, called FertileCM®, is supposed to increase the amount of cervical mucus you make, particularly during the few days the mucus is most fertile. The supplement contains vitamin C at 167 percent of the recommended daily allowances for this vitamin as well as things like coral calcium, Lactobacillus acidophilus, L arginine, N Acetyl Cysteine, and grape seed extract. While the scientific data proving that this type of supplement will increase cervical mucus is lacking, the website that sells this type of product has many testimonials from women who noticed a change in the amount of cervical mucus they experienced.

Putting it All Together

Cervical mucus can tell a woman a great deal about what is going on with regard to their hormones as well as what her fertility status is. It is much cheaper to evaluate the cervical mucus around the time of ovulation than it is to spend money on ovulation test kits, which detect the LH surge at the time of ovulation. The truth is that, even if there is an LH surge and the egg is released into the fallopian tube, if the cervical mucus isn’t optimum, the sperm will not get to the egg. Semen needs the stringy, stretchy texture of fertile cervical mucus in order to provide a “highway” for sperm to travel through.

On the other hand, if a woman does not want to become pregnant, keeping track of the cervical mucus can help prevent a pregnancy, especially if cycles are regular. She can avoid intercourse for the five days before the expected change in cervical mucus so that there is no viable sperm left in the vagina, cervix, or uterus at the time of ovulation. It takes practice and careful observation but it can really prevent pregnancy when done correctly.