Cervical mucus (CM) is the secretion produced by the glands in the cervix, the neck of the womb.
It is important for conception as it is the entry point for the sperm to swim up the womb and fallopian tube in search of the egg. It usually forms a thick plug preventing the sperm from entering the womb. But during ovulation, instead of being a barrier, it helps accelerate the passage of the sperm through the cervix and prolong the life of the sperm, allowing them to live for up to five days. CM also helps screen the sperm allowing the active and apparently “normal” sperm to pass through. In addition, it acts as an anti-bacterial barrier for the cervix.
Distinct from other vaginal discharge, CM is odourless, colourless and does not cause any vaginal irritation. In response to the ovarian hormones, the amount, consistency and composition of CM show cyclical changes throughout the menstrual cycle Women can see and feel CM when it moistens their underwear, or when they wipe themselves with toilet paper.
Soon after the menses, the vaginal discharge is scanty with no visible mucus. As ovulation approaches, the vagina feels moist with increasing amount of sticky, white or creamy discharge .The mucus is slightly stretchy but breaks easily when stretched. During ovulation, the vagina feels slippery, wet and lubricated. The mucus is copious, thin, stretchable and transparent like the raw egg white. After ovulation, the mucus becomes scanty, thick, opaque and sticky again.
By observing these changes in the CM, women can boost their chances of conception by timing intimacy during ovulation.