Sometimes sticky, sometimes clear, and sometimes even…creamy? ICYDK, your cervical mucus changes throughout the entire menstrual cycle.
But what do the color and texture of your ovulation discharge say about your fertility levels? More importantly, how can you use that knowledge to your baby-making advantage and make your ovulation tracking more accurate?
Here’s all you need to know about ovulation discharge and when it indicates you’re at your most fertile.
Disclaimer: The information provided in this post is not intended as medical advice.
What Is Ovulation Discharge, and What Does It Do? 🤔
Ovulation discharge, also known as vaginal discharge or cervical mucus, refers to a substance produced and released from your cervix into your vagina.
- Cervical mucus sieves out abnormally shaped sperm, preventing them from reaching the cervix. This ensures that only healthy and normal sperm can fertilize the egg.
- Cervical mucus nourishes sperm, which prepares them for fertilization later on.
- Cervical mucus also stores sperm for safekeeping in the cervix for up to five days and releases them later. This helps to boost the opportunity window for sperm to meet and fertilize the egg.
An individual’s cervical mucus will change in consistency, volume, and color throughout the menstrual cycle. It’s one way to identify whether you might be fertile or not.
And if you’re tracking your ovulation with a calendar or mobile app, checking your cervical mucus helps to make the whole process more comprehensive.
What Does Ovulation Discharge Look Like & What Are the Different Types?
The cervical mucus you secrete throughout the entire menstrual period can change with each passing day. This is due to the fluctuations in your hormone levels as you progress through your menstrual cycle.
But how do I know if my cervical mucus is fertile? And what does my cervical mucus look like if I’m not pregnant?
Here’s how your ovulation discharge changes with your menstrual cycle:
- During your period: Vaginal discharge is masked by the menstrual blood released when your uterine lining breaks down.
- After your period or ovulation: Your cervical mucus can be thick, pasty-looking, or sticky. The discharge could also appear white, off-white, or slightly yellow. Sometimes, you might not even have any discharge (AKA “dry days”).
- Before ovulation: Cervical mucus is clear or translucent with a watery but not stretchy texture, similar to that of lubricants. This is when you should start having sex regularly, or more often than usual to increase your chances of pregnancy.
- During ovulation: Ovulation discharge takes on a raw egg-white consistency. In fact, this type of discharge can stretch to more than an inch! These are surefire indicators that you’re ovulating. Egg-white cervical mucus provides the best environment for sperm to swim toward the egg and fertilize it.
Now that you know how your ovulation discharge changes throughout the cycle, you can better identify your fertile window (a short period of 5-6 days) to get the most out of your baby-making efforts.
Ideally, you should be having sex more often during your fertile window, while your cervical mucus resembles a lubricant.
How To Check for Fertile Ovulation Discharge
So, how do I use ovulation discharge to check for my fertile window? Do I use my fingers and stick it up you-know-where? Or do I just look closely at the consistency of the discharge on my panties?
And does ovulation discharge mean that you’re ovulating?
Here are three simple ways for you to check for fertile ovulation discharge:
- Gently put two clean fingers into your vagina — about half an inch in — and remove them to check the cervical mucus’ consistency.
- Look at the vaginal discharge on your panties and pay attention to its color and texture.
- Use some toilet paper to wipe your vagina before peeing and check the cervical mucus on it.
The only caveat to checking your ovulation discharge is right after sex — you don’t want to be confused with semen that’s ejaculated into your vagina! Also, avoid monitoring any changes in your discharge when you’re sexually aroused, as the fluids you secrete could be mistaken for cervical mucus.
Using and Charting Your Cervical Mucus as a Fertility Gauge 💡
With your ovulation discharge indicating specific stages of your menstrual cycle, charting your cervical mucus is one way to determine your fertile window. You can check your cervical mucus daily and log your observations on a chart.
If you’re currently charting your basal body temperature (BBT) for ovulation tracking, remember to jot down your cervical mucus changes on your BBT chart too. Monitor your cycle over a few months to get a more accurate understanding, which then allows you to clearly identify when your fertile window is arriving.
Need expert guidance in this area? Try the twoplus Ovulation Pro Read, an ovulation tracking service for folks trying to conceive. Our fertility experts will analyze your test readings over a 20-day period during your current ovulation cycle to predict your fertile period in the next cycle.
Does Early Pregnancy Discharge Look Like Ovulation Discharge?
Did you know that your vaginal discharge can change in consistency and volume when you’re pregnant? This means it can be used as an early sign of pregnancy, albeit not a 100% foolproof one.
How pregnancy discharge works:
- Cervical mucus generally thickens and sometimes dries up before you get your period.
- However, if fertilization of your egg has occurred, your body can continue producing ovulation discharge, and a greater amount than usual, to boot.
- Pregnancy discharge tends to be thin and watery, colorless, or milky-white. It may also be odorless or even give off a subtle smell.
Implantation bleeding (read: spotting) could also occur in some women, causing brown or pinkish vaginal discharge. You can read more about other early signs of pregnancy here.
It can be hard to tell the difference between normal discharge and pregnancy discharge. Therefore, using a pregnancy test kit is a more accurate way to know if you’re expecting.
With twoplus Fertility’s Pregnancy Test Kit, you can receive highly accurate results in as quick as three minutes. All it takes is just four simple steps.
What Causes Changes to Your Ovulation Discharge?
Hormonal changes are key contributors to any alterations in your cervical mucus.
A 2017 study found that rising estrogen levels increase your body’s ovulation discharge production. A surge in estrogen also liquefies the cervical mucus, making it more watery and transparent-looking. Meanwhile, a progesterone spike causes the volume of cervical mucus to shrink while taking on a thicker texture.
Because eating habits, lifestyle patterns, and certain health conditions influence your hormone levels, these factors indirectly impact your ovulation discharge.
You are what you eat, which is why your diet also impacts the health of your cervical mucus. Even getting enough fluids every day does wonders for your ovulation discharge because almost all of it is made up of water. When you’re dehydrated, it affects both the volume and texture of your cervical mucus.
Additionally, ensure that your vitamin C intake hits your recommended daily levels. It helps keep your reproductive health in tip-top shape because it’s an antioxidant, which destroys free radicals. This lets your reproductive system function optimally, which then keeps the quality of your cervical mucus high.
2. Chronic Stress
Depending on the situation, short-term stress can be beneficial, motivating us to perform to the best of our abilities. However, long-term stress is never good and it wreaks havoc on our bodies. For individuals who identify as female, prolonged stress badly affects vaginal health. It increases your likelihood of contracting genitourinary tract infections.
Furthermore, unnecessary stress can cause your body to prematurely produce fertile-looking cervical mucus. This would result in anyone doubting their ovulation tracking efforts, which in turn, affects family planning during that period of time.
A host of medicines can affect your cervical mucus, even common over-the-counter options meant to treat allergies and flu symptoms. For example, antihistamines will likely dry up your cervical mucus while decongestants have the opposite effect. Do take note of what medications you’re taking and consult your primary care physician or gynecologist if your tracking feels off.
That’s not all. Depending on the medication you’re taking, it can also affect how receptive your ovulation discharge is to sperm, which is why it’s crucial for you to speak with a doctor if you’re trying to conceive when you’re unwell or suffering from an allergic reaction.
If you’re thinking of adding a second bundle of joy to the family, you’ll need to know how breastfeeding affects your cervical mucus. Researchers discovered in a 2018 study that postpartum breastfeeding mothers tended to secrete cervical mucus which wrongly signaled they were in their fertile window.
In the same study, the researchers found that urinary hormone testing helped to overcome this bodily misdirection. This is something you should consider if you and your partner are trying to get back into action as soon as possible.
5. Vaginal Infections
Fungal and bacterial infections like thrush and vaginosis can cause abnormal vaginal discharge. This is usually characterized by a foul smell, an odd color (think yellow, brown, or gray), and a strange consistency (such as frothy or cheesy). Although these characteristics do not necessarily mean that your vagina is infected, you’ll still need to visit the doctor.
To help lower the odds of a vaginal infection, do not douche your vagina. It’s already self-cleansing, so all you really need is warm water and a mild soap.
Related article: How Does Your Vaginal pH Affect Your Fertility Health?
6. Birth Control
This is akin to how medication affects your cervical mucus. Birth control methods like the mini-pill and intrauterine device (IUD) thicken your cervical mucus, making it tough for sperm to enter the cervix.
If you’re ready to try for a child after coming off birth control, you’ll first need to wait for 1-3 months for your menstrual cycle to return to normal.
This also allows your cervical mucus to be secreted according to the various stages of your cycle again, instead of being consistently thick.
7. Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs)
Likewise, this is similar to how vaginal infections result in abnormal vaginal discharge. However, sexually transmitted infections (STIs) tend to be accompanied by other symptoms, such as lower abdominal pain and a burning sensation when peeing.
On the other hand, there are multiple STIs which have no symptoms. These include chlamydia, gonorrhea, and HPV. Your cervical mucus might still be clear, but it’s worth taking an STI test at the clinic after a risky sexual encounter to ensure that you’re truly in the clear.
What Is Considered Unnatural Ovulation Discharge?
Changes to the consistency, color, and odor of your ovulation discharge are normal with the natural fluctuations of your menstrual cycle.
With that said, do make a trip to the doctor or gynecologist if your vaginal discharge:
- Smells foul
- Has an odd color like bright yellow, green, or gray, and/or
- Causes itchiness, irritation, swelling, or even a burning sensation at your groin
Work With Your Ovulation Discharge When Trying To Get Pregnant 🐣
As you’ve learned earlier on, egg-white discharge usually indicates that you’re at your most fertile. That’s when sperm has the best odds of swimming up the vaginal canal and working against gravity. Pencil in as much sex as you can to help increase your likelihood of a successful pregnancy.
Besides monitoring changes in the appearance of your cervical mucus, go one step further to confirm that you’re ovulating by using an ovulation predictor kit.
If you often struggle to read your ovulation test kit results, why not get the experts to decode for you? With the twoplus Ovulation Pro Read, our fertility experts will analyze test readings from your current ovulation cycle to predict your peak fertility in the next one so you know the best time for procreative sex.