If you’ve ever pulled down your underwear only to find a white stain: don’t recoil, don’t panic and (please) do not look for reassurance via Google. What you’re seeing is cervical mucus, a normal bodily function imperative to your menstrual health and fertility.
While the word ‘mucus’ doesn’t exactly inspire joy, cervical mucus is quite the intelligent bodily function. Not only can it help us identify what stage of our menstrual cycle we are in, it can tell us what our hormone levels are, or when the best (or worst) time to conceive is.
With this in mind, we thought it was about time we shed some light on this weird, wonderful discharge, so you can feel ignited to better understand and befriend your amazing body. Ok,let’s get all up in this WAP.
What is cervical mucus?
Cervical mucus (aka cervical fluid or cervical discharge), is a substance that forms in the cervix and is discharged through the vagina. Produced by the cells of your cervix, cervical fluid changes throughout your cycle from dry to wet, cloudy to clear, and stretchy to sticky. The consistency and colour of mucus changes throughout your menstrual cycle and has purpose.
What is the purpose of cervical mucus?
The ‘F’ word: Fertility.
For pregnancy to occur, cervical fluid is needed so the sperm can enter the uterus and reach the egg at ovulation. Consider it the body’s version of tequila: it’s the juice that gets things loose and moving.
The passageway enabling this process is the cervix. Located between your lower and upper reproductive tract, the cervix has its own glands which produces the fluid we call cervical mucus. Depending on what stage of your cycle you are in, your cervical fluid changes to make it difficult or easy for the sperm to swim past the cervix and into the uterus while also protecting sperm from the acidic environment of your vagina.
The consistency, volume and opacity of cervical mucus changes alongside your reproductive hormones. For example, in the fertile window before ovulation, the consistency of cervical mucus is wet, slippery and quite stretchy - this is sometimes called ‘egg white cervical mucus’. This type of cervical fluid promotes sperm survival and helps sperm swim closer to the egg for fertilization (which is just a fancy, medically-approved way of saying: get kinky, wink.). Then finally, after ovulation when the egg has reached it’s full cycle, your cervical fluid may become dry, sticky or completely absent until your next cycle begins.
Why should you care?
Information is power ladies, but we often ignore the subtle information our bodies present us with, until there is a problem. It’s our job to take the time to understand what our bodies are telling us so we can care for them accordingly.
When we start to consider our discharge as an intelligent agent of our body, we can then recognise when something may be off. While cervical mucus varies from person to person, monitoring your discharge can help you understand YOUR body.
The five stages of cervical mucus.
Most women's discharge will resemble one of five stages in their cycle. Let's break them down.
1. The beginning of your cycle (aka your period)… your fertility is low.
Alongside your tolerance for others, your period also reduces your production of estrogen and progesterone. Because high levels of estrogen are required to produce cervical mucus, your body won’t produce much (if any) cervical mucus at this time, thus reducing your chances of fertility.
2. Just after your period… your fertility is still not peaking.
Things are looking pretty dry to mild below deck but a small amount of discharge may result in a sticky, cloudy or white form. In some cases, it may even be lumpy or glue-like.
In the days after your period, estrogen levels are starting to rise as a result of follicle growth in your ovaries. This is your body preparing to release an egg for ovulation. But because an egg has not yet been released, your body is still not producing the kind of discharge needed for sperm to swim hassle-free through the cervix and into the uterus. It doesn’t need, nor want, no sperm RN.
3. By day 9 in a 28 day cycle… your fertility is making moves.
Your cervix is starting to produce more fluid as Estrogen levels continue to rise and your beautiful body prepares for ovulation.The discharge in this phase could vary from cloudy to sticky and lotion-like. Luckily our moisture wicking bamboo briefs dry in no time so you can wash, wear and repeat without running low.
Whilst your fertility is not at its peak in this stage, increased discharge means that your body is getting ready to make babies. Here’s where we like to remind you about a little something called SPERM. While your chances of fertility may be low in day nine to ten of your cycle, sperm can still hang around for up to five days after sex, (no matter how unmemorable it was). If a tiny human isn’t on the cards for you right now, be extra safe while you play naughty in this phase.
4. By day 14 in a 28 day cycle… you are ovulating and your fertility is on *literal* fire.
More cervical fluid is produced as your fertility window is open for business. Your vagina will likely start to feel much wetter while cervical fluid becomes more slippery as its water content rises. As the days go on, this fluid becomes stretchier and clearer, resembling an egg white consistency while your horniness levels surge.
Your lube-like discharge isn’t messing around here, giving sperm the best chance at reaching an egg; plan or protect yourself accordingly during this phase.
5. After ovulation…aaannnnd your fertility is zonked so is taking five, (aka it’s low).As the ovulation window closes, cervical fluid becomes more fibrous, making it difficult for sperm to pass through. During this period, cervical fluid is stickier, with less water content than before ovulation. In some cases, there will be no mucus at all.
Signs of something else.Can’t relate to any of the above? You may be experiencing abnormal discharge which may signal the presence of something else. If any of the below signs resonate with you, contact a healthcare professional.
- Unusually thin, or thick consistency that seems more textured/chunky.
- Discharge which smells fishy, metallic or unusual to something you’ve experienced in the past.
- Grey, green, brown or yellow colouring.
- A significant or unexpected volume of mucus.
Team Vee x