“Literature is mostly about having sex and not much about having children; life’s the other way round.” – David Lodge
If you sit back and reflect on your relationship now, you’ll most likely find that for the first few years, much of your life revolved around trying incredibly hard not to fall pregnant and anxiously awaiting your period every month. Your latter years had much to do with tracking your cycle only to find that abandoning the condoms and coming off the Pill wouldn’t automatically result in the expansion of your family.
Because truth is, while some women might own the Fertile Myrtle title, others are desperately trying to save face at every baby shower while swallowing everyone’s passive aggressive comments.
Falling pregnant isn’t all that simple, even if you really, really, really want a baby, and cross all your fingers and your toes. While we can’t provide you with any actual medical advice and technological intervention, we can help you understand your body and how it’s probably already telling you exactly when you’re ready to have a baby.
So let's talk about a primary fertility sign – cervical fluid – and how this wonderfully creamy, egg-white substance that you know only as "discharge" is your body telling you it's ready to help you get pregnant.
- Also try our: Ovulation calculator
What is cervical fluid?
“Cervical fluid is to the woman what seminal fluid is to the man,” writes Toni Weschler in her international bestseller, Taking Charge of Your Fertility.
She explains that while men are fertile and constantly producing seminal fluid (containing sperm), women are only fertile for a few days around ovulation.
Your cervical fluid changes in texture from a few days after your period leading up to ovulation and your peak day. (Your peak day is the most fertile day, which usually occurs the day before you ovulate or the day of ovulation itself). Around ovulation, your cervical fluid provides the sperm with an alkaline medium in which to swim, one that will protect them and allow them to thrive as they travel through the vagina, up the cervix and into the uterus to fertilise an egg which has been released.
So each cycle, after your period and as your oestrogen levels begin to rise, your cervical fluid will typically start to develop and progress in the following manner.
Phase 1: Dry
Right after your period, you may have a very dry vaginal sensation or, as Weschler describes, a moist but not completely wet sensation that dries quickly:
“You may notice a slight moisture similar to the way it would feel if you touched the inside of your cheek for a second. Your finger would have a dampness on it that would evaporate within a few seconds. This is the way the vaginal opening typically feels when there is no cervical fluid.”
Phase 2: Sticky
The second phase is likely a sticky fluid, a lot like a paste. It may also appear somewhat rubbery and a little springy (sometimes even crumbly), but still not quite wet.
Phase 3: Creamy
Next you’ll find that your cervical fluid might be creamy and white or yellow, a lot like lotion. It might feel a bit cold at the opening of your vagina and therefore cool to the touch, but everyone is different. The takeaway is that you’ll feel a very wet vaginal sensation for quite a few days.
Phase 4: Eggwhite
Lastly, and this is the marker that you are most fertile, your cervical fluid will be quite slippery, stretchy and either slightly opaque and clear, looking a lot like eggwhite. It’s extremely lubricative and may even leave a wet, round mark on your underwear. This quality of cervical fluid is the most conducive for the sperm to thrive and fertilise, but only lasts for a day or two. By the way, you my find your sex drive goes all next level during this phase!
When is the fluid NOT normal?
When your discharge is very thick, like cottage cheese, a bit smelly, and/or accompanied by burning or itching, then you may have thrush or a bacterial infection. Add a cup of apple-cider vinegar to a little bathwater and wash yourself. If it doesn't clear up, see your doctor.
How to check and chart my cervical fluid
Now that you understand that your cervical fluid is not just a streaky, stringy, snotty mess, here’s how you can actually track it to determine when exactly during your cycle you’re most fertile with a chart that looks a lot like this:
Begin by marking off the days you’re menstruating with an x, as well as the day you’re spotting with a (x). The first day of your period will be Day 1.
Now you’re going to start tracking your cervical fluid by firstly monitoring vaginal sensation throughout the day, i.e. whether it feels dry, wet, or extremely wet (you know what we mean).
The stains left behind on your panty are actually a very good indication of your fertility or lack therefore throughout your cycle. Look for a stain in the shape of a symmetrical circle for a very wet panty, due to a high concentration of water, for an indication of very fertile cervical fluid. A dry, streaky, rectangular line on your panty will indicate you’re less fertile.
You’re also going to have to track the actual nature and description of your cervical fluid by separating your vaginal lips and either using a tissue or your fingers to wipe around the opening closest to your perineum. Keep the cervical fluid between your fingers and rub them together. Is it sticky? Creamy? Does it resemble and feel like egg-white? Now write that down.
You can do this test every time you go to the bathroom and monitor it when you wipe after a bowel movement as it's most likely to flow out then. If you don’t feel as though it doesn’t come out easily, Kegel exercises on your way to the loo may also help it along. If you’re really struggling to produce cervical fluid that flows right out, place your index and middle fingers into your vagina, up to the cervix itself to extract the fluid. Be consistent in using this method when tracking your cervical fluid along your cycle.
Once you’ve tracked your fluid you can fill in when you think your peak day is (PK), which is generally on the last day you produce fertile cervical fluid. The period you are fertile for is, of course, a window rather than one given day, as shown above and you’ll be able to identify with your own chart according to your own body (see below for an empty chart).
Having sex on or around your peak day maximises your chances of conceiving.
- Also read: Signs of ovulation
Fertility chart to track your cervical fluid (inspired by Toni Weschler's book Taking Charge of Your Fertility):
While we can't guarantee that tracking your cervical fluid and having sex on your peak day will without a doubt result in a pregnancy, it will optimise your chances of getting pregnant. Because your cervical fluid is there not only to tell you when you're most fertile, but to help see the conception process through.
So feel it, rub it between your fingers and track it down to the sensation in your panties. Because your wonderfully creamy, stretchy and slippery cervical fluid, is your liquid gold.
Did you ever try tracking your cervical fluid? Did it help you get pregnant? Are there any other biological fertility signs you tracked that helped you get pregnant? Tell us by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
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