Whether you are trying hard to get pregnant or trying hard not to get pregnant, one of the most important factors is to determine when you are ovulating. To do this at home you can buy expensive kits that will help you test to see if you are, download an app to help you track your ovulating cycle, or do it the old fashioned way of monitoring your cervical mucous. But is this just an old-wives tale, or is vaginal discharge a sign of ovulation?
If you start to monitor the fluid coming out of your vagina, you will notice that it changes throughout your menstrual cycle. The key to understanding the meaning of the discharge is not just its presence, but its characteristics, and there happen to be distinct changes to cervical mucous that indicate you are ovulating, states Mayo Clinic. Ovulation mucous will be more watery and resemble egg whites.
To be successful in this method, you have to be comfortable touching your private parts and you can't be skeeved by your bodily fluids. This is not for the squeamish, and you need to really familiarize yourself with what comes out of your body to have the best reading. Map at least three cycles before having a good idea of when the discharge indicates ovulation, suggests All About Vaginal Discharges. Many women don't have perfect 28-day cycles so it's good to take a few months to figure out how many days is usual for you. A menstrual cycle calendar or diary can be used to keep track of the daily findings. You might find the mucous on your underwear or you might find it when you wipe after you go to the bathroom. You may even need to bear down, as if you are having a bowel movement, for optimal mucous retrieval. Once you have the mucous, if you pinch or rub it between your fingers, you can get a better idea of whether or not you're ovulating.
While you're on your period, and immediately after, your body won't expel mucous, explains Estronaut. In between period cycles though, your body will discharge a range of range of cervical mucous consistencies. Here is what they mean:
Approaching ovulation: The mucous is moist and sticky. If you stretch it between your fingers, it breaks in less than a centimeter. As you approach ovulation, the mucous becomes cloudier, stretchier and greater in volume. This change is due to your estrogen levels beginning to surge.
During ovulation: The egg-white phase, as Estronaut describes. It is "the thinnest, clearest and most abundant." You can rub it between your fingers and stretch it pretty far. This is the magic time to either get down to business or to take some very serious precautions to prevent pregnancy. The cervical mucous thins to give sperm the optimal environment to live and to be able to swim up to the egg, Alexandra Sowa, M.D. told Parents. American Pregnancy said that the change also creates the perfect pH level and texture for sperm survival.
After ovulation: Mucous returns to its thicker consistency and eventually the mucous disappears and your period appears.
Just a heads up, semen looks just like cervical mucous. So if you are having unprotected sex, it's possible you could potentially misread the mucous for semen. In addition, medications, vaginal infections and certain types of birth control can also alter the consistency of your mucous.
According to Ovulation Calculator, if you are trying to get pregnant, the best time to have sex is the two days before you think you are ovulating. Sperm can live up to five days in the woman's body and eggs live for about 24 hours after they have been released from the ovaries. If you are avoiding pregnancy, tracking your mucous and cycle can be useful, but it's not foolproof and is probably best backed up with other methods of contraception.
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