Have you decided to start trying for a baby? There are numerous ways to learn more about your fertility — and all of them increase your chances of getting pregnant as soon as possible! Fertility charting using basal body temperature (BBT) is a fantastic way to find out when you are fertile. Observing your cervical mucus can be a key part of fertility charting, because it can tell you exactly where in your cycle you currently are, if you know what to look for.

Credit: dhammza via Flickr Creative Commons.

Every woman’s cervical mucus changes throughout her menstrual cycle. Monitoring that mucus may seem a little disgusting to many women, and less “involved” methods of monitoring fertility, like using an ovulation calendar, may be preferred. That is a shame, because cervical mucus actually gives women lots of information about their fertility, all for free. What is the difference between cervical mucus before, during, and after ovulation?

We’ll take a look at the beginning of the menstrual cycle first. Right as your menstruation is coming to an end, you will notice less bleeding. If you use a menstrual cup — like the Diva Cup or Moon Cup — you will notice the last day of menstruation because the flow gradually dies down, and the fluids expelled will include white cervical mucus as well as the last of your menstrual blood, making a pink-ish mixture.

After a menstrual period has ended, the majority of women have very little or no cervical mucus. Your vagina will feel slightly dry, and you will notice no discharge. Then, as your ovulation approaches, your cervical mucus will increase in volume. When you are ovulating, the texture and acidity of your cervical mucus adjusts to accommodate sperm, and increase the chances that sperm can survive long enough to reach your waiting egg, as well as making the journey easier. Ovulatory cervical mucus is egg-white like, and kind of elastic.

What does cervical mucus look like after ovulation has ended, then? How do you know that your luteal phase has commenced if you are studying only cervical mucus, without using other methods like ovulation tests and body temperature too? The process of monitoring your cervical mucus sounds quite complicated and scientific. But once you know what signals you are looking for, it really is not all that hard.

The difference between fertile cervical mucus, and mucus during your luteal phase, is very obvious. While cervical mucus is stretchy, transparent, and fluid during your ovulation, it is totally white, very thick, and high on volume after ovulation has ended. This type of cervical mucus does not allow semen to travel through to your uterus, and sperm is not able to survive in this vaginal environment either. You will notice thick, white, and non-stretchy mucus until the onset of your menstrual period, after which the whole cycle will start from scratch again.

Taking a quick look at your cervical mucus now and then is handy even if you are trying to get pregnant using other methods — ovulation tests included. And some couples even rely on cervical mucus to tell them when they are fertile so that they can avoid pregnancy, successfully!