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What Happens to Cervical Mucus During Ovulation?

Autumn Rivers
Updated May 17, 2024
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One way of determining when ovulation will occur is to keep track of the cervical mucus. The color, consistency, and amount are all important to note because as ovulation nears, the mucus becomes clear, stretchy, and copious. Observing cervical mucus during ovulation is one of several methods for women to determine when they should have intercourse with their partner in order to achieve pregnancy. Thus, learning what to look for is important before expecting to get pregnant.

What many women are not aware of is that cervical mucus changes throughout the menstrual cycle. The changes are not just random, as each type of mucus has a purpose, especially during ovulation. Unfortunately, many women consider any discharge to be a negative thing, so they often ignore it or try to get rid of it. Those trying to achieve pregnancy, however, eventually learn to appreciate the cervical mucus that their body produces, as pregnancy is not typically possible without it.

Mucus that is not fertile often appears sticky, thick, white, and shows up just before and after menstruation. There may be very little of this kind of mucus, and it is not considered conducive to pregnancy because it is difficult for sperm to move through it. Many women do not even notice any cervical mucus during this part of their cycle since it is quite scant.

As a woman approaches ovulation, she may notice an increase in cervical mucus. It will likely become thinner and easier to stretch, though it is usually still white, and not as plentiful as cervical mucus during ovulation. It is often described as creamy, and is said to look like lotion. Women who observe this kind of mucus should begin to anticipate ovulation in the following few days, and may even begin having intercourse in an attempt to ensure that sperm is waiting for the egg just before its release.

Cervical mucus during ovulation is clear, slippery, stretchy, and quite thin. It is often said to look like raw egg whites, and should be able to stretch between the fingers without breaking easily. This is considered the easiest for sperm to travel through, which makes it likelier than ever for the released egg to be fertilized. In fact, there are some lubricants that can be purchased from the store that mimic cervical mucus during ovulation, which can help women who naturally have trouble producing fertile mucus. The fertile mucus should dry up almost immediately after ovulation, gradually returning to the dry, scant mucus present during menstruation.

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Autumn Rivers
By Autumn Rivers
Autumn Rivers, a talented writer for WiseGEEK, holds a B.A. in Journalism from Arizona State University. Her background in journalism helps her create well-researched and engaging content, providing readers with valuable insights and information on a variety of subjects.

Discussion Comments

By Perdido — On Jan 21, 2012

@shell4life – I tried the toilet paper dipping method before, but to me, the best indicator is sticking my fingers in it. I know that sounds yucky, but it is hard to stretch out mucus with absorbent paper.

When I get it on my fingers, I see how far I can stretch the mucus out between them before it droops off of them. If I can stretch the mucus an inch or more, I know that I am ovulating.

I have had one child this way, but I am having trouble getting pregnant again. It worked once, so I will continue stretching out my cervical mucus by hand.

By seag47 — On Jan 20, 2012

The article is right about cervical mucus looking and behaving like egg whites. I often make desserts with egg whites, and their goopy yet stretchy quality greatly resembles the discharge during ovulation.

It is kind of gross, really. I usually know when I'm ovulating, because I can feel this gooey discharge in my underwear, especially if I'm sitting down. It feels cold and wet, and I usually go to the restroom and wipe it off.

I have had three children, and I think that I was able to do this by observing my cervical mucus and trying to get pregnant at the right time. Some people say I'm just extremely fertile, but I think that timing is everything.

By shell4life — On Jan 19, 2012

@kylee07drg – I greatly anticipate the changes in my cervical mucus during ovulation. I want to have a child so badly, and I keep a close watch on the texture and color of my discharge to make this happen.

I understand some people's need to live life fully before giving birth, but this is all I have ever wanted. I have been trying for a year to have a baby, so I have become very familiar with my cycle.

When I see the clear discharge in my underwear, I take a piece of toilet paper and dip it in the mucus. If it stretches out, I know that I am ovulating. If it doesn't, I know it isn't quite time yet.

By kylee07drg — On Jan 19, 2012

I had no idea that cervical mucus differed from regular discharge! I most definitely do not want to get pregnant, so I will start paying closer attention to my cervical mucus.

I rarely notice the texture of my discharge. I have noticed that it is sometimes thicker than normal, but I didn't think this had any significance.

Most women will use this knowledge to increase their chances of getting pregnant, but I will be doing just the opposite. I am not ready to settle down to a life of domesticity, and I have to many things that I want to accomplish before starting a family.

Autumn Rivers

Autumn Rivers

Autumn Rivers, a talented writer for WiseGEEK, holds a B.A. in Journalism from Arizona State University. Her background in journalism helps her create well-researched and engaging content, providing readers with valuable insights and information on a variety of subjects.
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