How your cervical mucus can help you get pregnant

woman on toilet

by Emily Gilbert |
Updated on

Other than your period, it’s likely you never paid too much attention to your body before you started thinking about preparing for pregnancy. This means you may have completely missed your cervical mucus, also known as ovulation discharge.

If you’ve now noticed this fluid in your underwear or on your toilet paper, you may be wondering what exactly it means. And actually, it’s pretty clever stuff.

What is cervical mucus?

According to the NHS: "As your hormone levels rise to prepare your body for ovulation, you'll probably find that you start to produce mucus that is moist, sticky, white and creamy. This is the start of the fertile period of your menstrual cycle. Immediately before ovulation the mucus will get wetter, clearer and slippery – a bit like raw egg white. This is when you're at your most fertile. The mucus should then soon return to being thicker and sticky, and after 3 days you should no longer be fertile."

Stages of ovulation discharge

Here’s a simple guide so you can quickly work out what your cervical mucus colour and consistency means for your body and your fertile window:

Not ovulating: discharge is dry or sticky or simply just non-existent

Ovulation may be coming: discharge is creamy like a lotion

Ovulation is close: discharge is wet and watery

Ovulation is occurring: discharge is very wet, stretchy and will remind you of raw egg white

This process will then repeat again and again.

It's very important to pay attention to this discharge as it can go from being cloudy or non-existent after your period to clear and slippery. It can also help you to track ovulation. Your most fertile cervical mucus will resemble raw egg whites, and this watery mucus helps sperm swim through the cervix easier, which increases your chances of conceiving and can help you get pregnant faster.

You may also notice changes in the colour of your discharge, as fluctuating hormone levels can lead to a small amount of spotting or bleeding. Sometimes called ovulation bleeding, this is completely normal and nothing to worry about. You might see a slight pink hue to your discharge, which just means a small amount of blood has mixed with your usual vaginal secretions.

How to check your ovulation discharge

While you can keep an eye on your underwear for ovulation discharge, you can also check for it yourself. Here’s what to do:

  1. Ensure your hands are washed and dried.
  1. It’s time to get comfortable. Squat on your toilet or alternatively stand and keep one leg up on your bath or toilet seat.
  1. Using your index or middle finger, reach one finger inside your vagina. You may not need to reach far if you’re producing a lot of cervical mucus but you’ll want to be in the general area of your cervix.
  1. Slowly remove your finger from your vagina and take a close look at the discharge you find, observing the consistency. An easy way to do this is by rolling the fluid between your thumb and index finger. Press your fingers together and then slowly move them apart.

Follow our guide above to figure out where you are at in your menstrual cycle. If the fluid is very wet and stretchy between your fingers, resembling raw egg white, your cervical mucus is very fertile meaning ovulation is close and it’s time for some baby-making!

Don’t check your ovulation discharge before or during sex as it’s easy to get confused between arousal fluids and fertile discharge as these look very similar. Additionally, checking after sex can be confusing too as it’s easy to confuse semen with cervical mucus.

What can cause changes in my cervical mucus?

Many different things can cause your ovulation discharge to change. These include:


If you’re on medication, bear in mind that some can dry up your ovulation discharge meaning you might not find any or as much before ovulation. In this case, you should use an ovulation predictor kit instead.

Polycystic ovary syndrome

Some women who have PCOS experience several patches of cervical mucus throughout their menstrual cycle, making it hard to predict their ovulation dates. If this is you, it’s worth trying other methods of ovulation tracking.

Cervical mucus after ovulation

Once you have finished ovulating, your body will gradually produce less cervical mucus and if you do see it, it may look cloudy and feel a bit sticky.

Cervical mucus after conception

Changes to your cervical mucus can be an early sign of pregnancy before you even get a positive pregnancy test. Following implantation, your mucus may be thick, clear and gluey.

You might also experience implantation bleeding which commonly happens around the three weeks pregnant or four weeks pregnant mark.

Cervical mucus in early pregnancy

If you're not pregnant, you will eventually notice drier cervical mucus or even none at all. However, if you are pregnant, you'll start to notice an increase in wet watery pregnancy discharge due to your rising estrogen and progesterone levels which occurs during early pregnancy. It may also change in colour and consistency.

If you've noticed brown discharge during pregnancy, this can be down to numerous things such as implantation bleeding or even simply old blood which has turned from red to brown.

Can birth control affect ovulation discharge?

One of the potential side effects of using birth control such as the pill can be an increase in vaginal discharge. This can be a result of the hormones which work by thickening your cervical mucus in order to stop the sperm from reaching the egg.

Other factors

• Feminine hygiene products

• Breastfeeding

• Infections

• Douching

What is the cervical mucus method?

If you are trying to have a baby, this new ‘skill’ (can we call it that?) is definitely useful to have in your arsenal and is actually considered a form of natural family planning known as the cervical mucus method.

You are probably already off birth control, have used our ovulation calculator, know how to check your basal body temperature or even use ovulation tests and that’s all great! But while your BBT lets you know if and when you ovulated after it happened, your ovulation discharge changes will tell you before you ovulate, helping you to time sex on your most fertile days and increasing chances of pregnancy naturally.

When you notice your cervical mucus becomes thin and watery, this is when you should try to have sex every day or every other day. It's worth noting that is most effective if you have regular monthly menstrual cycles.

If you're avoiding pregnancy

The cervical mucus method is an unreliable form of natural contraception compared to alternative forms of contraception such as condoms or the pill.

Even if you aren’t trying to get pregnant, it is worth checking your cervical mucus to get to know your menstrual cycle. It’s actually pretty empowering, to understand exactly what your body is going through and how this might be affecting how you feel.

When to seek professional help

If you are concerned for any reason whatsoever about your ovulation discharge, do not hesitate to contact a doctor as this may be a result of an infection. You should also keep an eye out for itching or burning, unusual odour, redness or swelling and yellow discharge, green mucus or grey mucus.

A journalist since 2015, Emily Gilbert is the Features & Reviews Editor for Mother&Baby and has written for the website and previously the magazine for seven years. Emily writes about everything from the top baby products to pregnancy, fertility and maternal mental health. Specialising in product reviews, Emily is the first to know about all the exciting new releases in the parenting industry.

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