Cervical mucus and fertility: things to know

As ovulation approaches, the production of estrogen by the ovarian cells increases which leads to an increased secretion of “fertile” mucus by the cervix.

This clear, stringy mucus – known as cervical mucus or albuminous cervical mucus – has a consistency similar to that of egg white. This consistency and its pH which is around 8, constitute a perfect environment for the protection of the sperm.

The secretion of cervical mucus – the so-called ovulatory or premenstrual leucorrhoea – plays a fundamental role in conception, as it nourishes and protects the sperm as it travels through the female reproductive system to meet the egg.

A good secretion of cervical mucus in the fertile period increases the chances of conception. Therefore, if you pay attention to it during that period, you will also be able to identify your most fertile days.

Identify cervical mucus changes

The most accurate way to observe mucus changes is to collect and observe a mucus sample each day. To this end:

  1. wash and dry your hands well, then insert your middle or index finger into the vagina trying to get as close as possible to the cervix.
  2. even when you dry yourself off, you may notice cervical mucus on the toilet paper.

You can rely on both of these methods (approach the cervix with your finger – look at the toilet paper): just try to always use the same method, regularly every day. Then,

  • stretch your finger and observe the consistency of the mucus sample,
  • sliding it between your fingers,
  • pressing fingers together
  • then slowly push them away.

The following information illustrates the typical progression in the quantity and quality of cervical mucus that you can expect to see as your menstrual cycle progresses.

after menstruation

  • The production of cervical mucus is at a minimum: some women complain of “dryness” during this phase.
  • In the following days, however, the amount of mucus will increase, appearing yellow, cloudy, or white, and sticky to the touch.

around the day of ovulation

  • With the entry into the fertile period, the cervical mucus increases in terms of quantity and humidity.
  • It may appear as creamy.

during ovulation

  • In the days immediately preceding ovulation, cervical mucus production will be at its maximum, and its consistency and color will be similar to egg white.
  • Once you notice this “fertile” mucus, you’ll know you’re in your most fertile days.

after ovulation

The amount of mucus begins to decrease and become more solid in consistency. After monitoring changes in your cervical mucus,

  • you may (unfortunately) find that you aren’t producing enough “fertile” mucus around ovulation.
  • Or, you may even realize that during ovulation, the cervical mucus produced is “unfriendly,” meaning it’s thick and sticky instead of thin and stringy.

Both of these conditions can hinder conception efforts, making it difficult for sperm to travel efficiently and safely down the fallopian tube to meet and fertilize the egg.

Insufficient production of “fertile” cervical mucus, or the presence of “unfriendly” cervical mucus, can be due to a variety of factors such as diet, stress, hormonal issues, or even certain medications such as Clomid.

How to improve the quantity and quality of cervical mucus

If you notice that during your monthly fertile period you are not producing enough cervical mucus, or that this is not of “fertile” quality, the following suggestions may help you improve the quantity and quality of your cervical mucus:

  1. Keeping yourself hydrated is always very important, so try to drink enough water.
    • Dehydration certainly does not favor attempts at conception.
    • If you’re not drinking enough water, your mucous membranes (including the cervix area) won’t be moist enough.
    • Your body will treat its own “water supply” for the most essential bodily functions.
  2. Take a food supplement based on folic acid  (i.e. based on B vitamins).
  3. Some argue that vitamin E supplements can also improve the quality of cervical mucus.
    • However, if you’re taking any blood thinners (including low-dose aspirin) you shouldn’t be taking vitamin E. 
  4. The amino acid L-arginine is also thought to help increase cervical mucus, increasing blood flow and circulation around the reproductive organs. 
  5. It has also been claimed that grapefruit juice and green tea can improve the quality of cervical mucus, but there is no evidence to support these claims.
    • However, be aware that some medications cannot be combined with grapefruit juice. 

Before taking any dietary supplement, talk to your doctor.

Always tell your gynecologist about any herbal or “natural” remedies, as some of these can interact with fertility drugs.

Some advice and curiosities


You can check your cervical mucus by looking at the toilet paper after you pee (as we mentioned), or by assessing the leaks on your undergarments. In reality there is also a natural method based on the analysis of cervical mucus: the Billings Ovulation Method, more commonly known as the Billings method.

Do not check your cervical mucus during or immediately after intercourse.

It’s a bad idea to check it after sex because it’s all too easy to confuse semen for cervical secretions. 

Consider checking your cervical mucus immediately after bowel movements.

  • Of course, wash your hands thoroughly first!
  • But if you’re having trouble finding cervical mucus, that may be easier after you defecate.
  • Bowel movements cause any vaginal fluid near the entrance to the vagina to move downward.

If you find several patches of fertile cervical mucus, look for other different signs of ovulation.

  • Some women, especially those with polycystic ovary syndrome , may experience several patches of fertile-like cervical mucus during their cycle.
  • If you find yourself in this situation, predicting ovulation based on cervical mucus alone may not be for you.
  • You should pay attention to other ovulation signals, such as changes in the position of the cervix.
  • You could also track your basal body temperature so you know which of your fertile cervical fluids actually indicate ovulation.

Some medicines may interfere with your cervical fluids.

  • For example, these can be ‘dried out’ by antihistamines.
  • Ironically, Clomid can prevent you from having fertile cervical mucus. In this case, you may not find enough cervical mucus before ovulation.
  • So, failing that, you might be interested in trying an ovulation predictor kit.

If you never experience fertile cervical mucus, let your doctor know.

  • Lack of this type of mucus could be a sign of hormonal imbalance or fertility problems.
  • Cervical mucus that doesn’t become fertile is sometimes called “unfriendly” mucus.

You may notice fertile cervical mucus just before your period.

  • Some women notice that their cervical mucus becomes slimy or egg white-like just before menstruation.
  • Obviously, this is not a sign of imminent ovulation.
  • Women sometimes wonder if increased cervical mucus production just before menstruation is a possible early sign of pregnancy.
  • The fact is, it is almost impossible to distinguish the cervical mucus that occurs during the early stages of pregnancy from the “normal” one that appears just before menstruation.

A day or two after having sex, you may be mistaking semen for albuminous cervical mucus.

With experience, you’ll learn to tell them apart, but when it comes to trying to conceive, act as if you’re approaching ovulation and mark your calendar anyway.

Don’t try to wash off your natural vaginal fluids.

  • Cervical mucus is normal and healthy. It is a completely physiological phenomenon.
  • Some women wash off “ovulatory secretions” as they think they are unsanitary or unhealthy, but doing so can reduce fertility.

Katherine Johnson, M.D., is a board-certified obstetrician-gynecologist with clinical expertise in general obstetrics and gynecology, family planning, women’s health, and gynecology.

She is affiliated with the Obstetrics and Gynecology division at an undisclosed healthcare institution and the online platform, Maternicity.com.

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