Let’s talk about cervical fluid…
“It looks like I just gave birth to an alien!”
“I think this means I have an infection”
“I need to clean this discharge away!”
These are all phrases I’ve known women to think or say about cervical fluid.
There are SO many myths and so much confusion around cervical fluid. But this intelligent function of our body can be one of our greatest superpowers as women!
What is cervical fluid?
Cervical fluid (or cervical mucus) is mucus secreted by our cervix, which can be noticed as it is discharged through the vagina.
People often refer to the cervical fluid they observe as “discharge”. However, discharge is more of an overarching term that could refer to more substances that may exit the vagina than just cervical fluid alone (including discharge that is sign of an infection, or even blood).
For this reason, what we’re talking about is more accurately called cervical mucus or cervical fluid, as it is fluid that comes from our cervix. Makes sense!
Cervical fluid changes in consistency and even colour throughout our menstrual cycle. As we approach ovulation time in our cycle, the body’s levels of oestrogen begin to rise. This increase in oestrogen causes a change in cervical fluid, influencing it to be more wet and slippery.
This change in cervical fluid consistency may be observed in your underwear or on toilet paper after wiping. Observing these changes can give us so much insight into our menstrual cycle, our health and our fertility.
Does it mean I have an infection?
When someone has an infection, they may see discharge that is foul-smelling, off coloured (yellowish, greenish, grayish) or accompanied by burning, itching or pain.
This is NOT cervical fluid.
Cervical fluid has no odour, is clear or white, and never comes along with painful symptoms.
Quite the opposite to infection discharge, cervical fluid is a sign of good health and that your reproductive system is functioning well!
Everyone is different.
Some people see cervical fluid every day.
Some only see it a few days a month.
Some people produce so much cervical fluid they need to wear liners.
Some produce a very little amount.
It’s important to remember that everyone’s body is different and that’s ok! As one factor that influences cervical fluid production is our hormones, striving for optimal hormone balance can make cervical fluid observations easier. Whether someone sees a lot or a little cervical fluid, the change in consistency when cervical mucus becomes more wet and slippery is what can reveal that ovulation is approaching!
4 reasons cervical fluid is one of your greatest superpowers
1. It can assist sperm survival inside the female reproductive system
Cervical fluid facilitates the movement and survival of sperm inside the vaginal environment. It helps to keep sperm alive long enough for them to go in search of an ovulated egg and fertilise it! It also helps them move about in the vagina and uterus more effectively.
For people trying to get pregnant, cervical fluid is your best friend!
During the days of the month when cervical fluid is dry or nonexistent, it is likely that fertility on those days is low, and sperm would not survive more than a few hours inside the female reproductive system.
As ovulation approaches and oestrogen rises, cervical fluid increases in its fertile quality, becoming more wet and slippery. Many refer to this type of cervical fluid as “eggwhite” cervical fluid, as it resembles the look of raw eggwhite. It is clear (maybe a bit cloudy), and can be stretched between 2 fingers without breaking easily. This type of cervical fluid increases the chance of sperm uniting with an egg.
The most amazing thing about this is that fertile quality cervical fluid presents itself around the time of ovulation, which is the only time an egg is present within the fallopian tubes in order to be fertilised. The timing of fertile cervical fluid coincides with the only time in the cycle when pregnancy is actually possible! How amazing are our bodies!?!
2. It assists in preventing vaginal infections
The vaginal environment has a delicate pH balance. pH balance refers to how acidic or alkaline the environment inside the vagina is. The optimal pH balance for our vagina is slightly acidic (3.8-4.5), which helps to keep it protected from infection.
Cervical fluid plays a role in maintaining the pH balance of the vaginal environment, keeping it at its ideal level, and keeping you healthy! Thank goodness for cervical fluid!
Many people try to wash away cervical fluid, or clean the inside of the vagina.
The vagina is self-cleaning – how cool! We don’t need to do anything to clean the inside of it. In fact, we can actually do much damage to the delicate pH balance if we do! Douching, use of vaginal deodorisers, and even consistent use of spermicides can disrupt this balance and make us much more prone to infection.
So next time you see cervical fluid in your underwear and recall the time when you (or someone you know) thought that it meant you had an infection, remember that it actually has the EXACT OPPOSITE effect, keeping you balanced and protected from infection!
3. It gives you a sign that ovulation is occuring
A few days leading up to ovulation time our cervical fluid will change consistency to be wet, stretchy and look a little bit like raw eggwhite. This “eggwhite” type cervical fluid can be stretched between your fingers without breaking easily, and might be observed on toilet paper after wiping.
Sometimes we can miss it if we’re not looking for it, as it’s often quite clear and can fall into the toilet easily. The best time to look for it is when wiping after you have exercised.
This is a sign from your body that ovulation is approaching!
When this “eggwhite” fertile quality cervical fluid disappears for good, that is a likely sign that ovulation has successfully occurred (a shift in basal body temperature will confirm this if someone is tracking BBT also).
If fertility quality “eggwhite” cervical fluid disappears, only to reappear a few days later, this indicates the body attempted to ovulate, wasn’t successful, and is trying again.
Don’t ignore these changes – use them to your advantage!
Some people use the knowledge that they’re ovulating to help them get pregnant.
Some people use it to try to avoid pregnancy.
Some people use it to create awareness of where they are in their cycle and how to expect to feel.
And some use it because of point number 4…..
4. It helps you predict your next period and know where you are in your cycle
Your period comes 12-16 days after ovulation (average 14 days). If we know when ovulation occurs by observing when “eggwhite” fertile quality cervical fluid appears and when it disappears, we can predict that our period will come between 12-16 days later.
This rule applies if your period comes every 28 days.
It also applies if your period comes only every 60 days.
It even applies if you only get your period once a year!
If you can confirm ovulation has happened using cervical fluid observations (and basal body temperature observations to increase accuracy) then you CAN know when your next period is coming!
Never be caught without a pad/tampon again!
Never have to wonder if your period will visit unexpectedly while you’re wearing your favorite white skirt!
Just another reason to love cervical fluid!
(I will mention that when I say “your period comes every 12-16 days after ovulation” that this is the average length of the luteal phase. Particular hormone imbalances or conditions may shorten on lengthen this time in certain individuals)
I encourage you to begin a practice of observing and recording the characteristics of your cervical fluid every day. You can track this in most period tracking apps. Starting this practice can help you to feel so much more in tune with, in control of and connection with your own body!
For more on cervical fluid and ovulation tracking:
If you’d like to learn more about cervical fluid tracking and how to do it, how your period can actually be your superpower rather than your enemy, you can have a look at Demi’s book ‘The Bright Girl Guide’. It is available internationally from her website, or from a large range of online retailers including Amazon and Book depository. You can find that list of retailers and read more at www.brightgirlhealth.com/shop