Cervical mucus is one of the key indicators of women's reproductive health. However, its role and importance haven't been highlighted enough. Here's what you should know about cervical mucus.

What is Cervical Mucus?

Cervical mucus is a thick fluid discharge from the cervix. It comprises 90%-98% water, and its viscosity and amount change throughout a woman's menstrual cycle. The glands in the cervix produce mucus because of hormonal changes.

Why is Cervical Mucus Important?

Cervical mucus protects the uterus, uterine, and ovaries against infections. It also ensures that the sperm moves through the cervix to fertilize an egg during ovulation. Cervical mucus is essential to conception as it allows the semen to move freely. It increases just before ovulation and turns slippery and stretchy. In this form, the cervical fluid protects and sustains sperm cells and boosts their ability to pass through the cervical canal. Any impediments to this process can make getting pregnant difficult.

During pregnancy, the cervical mucus thickens and creates a barrier to protect the fetus. Any defects in this barrier may lead to preterm birth and pathogenic attacks on the fetus.

What are the Four Types of Cervical Mucus?

The types of cervical mucus are based on their appearance and consistency, and they indicate the fertility levels.

  1. Lowest Fertility-Type 1
    • Appearance: No or minimal cervical mucus
    • Consistency: Nothing felt; vagina feels dry and itchy
  1. Low fertility-Type 2
    • Appearance: Negligible amount
    • Consistency: Feels damp, can't be felt significantly
  1. Medium Fertility-Type 3
    • Appearance: Creamy, whitish, pale yellow
    • Consistency: Thick but not stretchy or sticky
  1. High fertility- Type 4
    • Appearance: Transparent or whitish
    • Consistency: Wet, stretchy, slippery, sticky, smooth

Note that cervical mucus is different from arousal fluid. The latter refers to a clear fluid released by the glands around the vagina in response to sexual stimulation. Arousal fluid lubricates the vagina to prepare it for intercourse. It lasts for an hour or less.

How Does Cervical Mucus Change During the Menstrual Cycle?

The color, amount, texture, and consistency of cervical fluid change according to the menstrual cycle phases. It increases before ovulation and has a gel-like consistency, with colors ranging from pale yellowish to cloudy white. As estrogen levels rise, it turns more slippery, transparent, and stretchy (think of the consistency of raw egg whites). If you have sex when you are ovulating, this stretchy and clear mucus protects the sperm against the acidic environment and helps it move up to fertilize the egg. Once ovulation is over, cervical mucus decreases or may be absent in some women.

What Happens If You Don't Produce Cervical Mucus?

No or inadequate cervical mucus is a sign of fertility issues. It may indicate problems with ovulation because of one or more of the following reasons:

  • Hormonal Balance
  • Being underweight
  • Obesity
  • Stress
  • Age
  • Coming off the pill
  • Some fertility drugs, for example, clomifene citrate.

If you are experiencing difficulty conceiving, the quality or the amount of cervical mucus could be one of the reasons. Use an app with a period calendar and health-tracking for women, and plan sex during ovulation. If you repeatedly fail to conceive, talk to your doctor to know if there's any problem with the cervical mucus.

The Takeaway

Cervical mucus discharge is a sign of a normally functioning female reproductive system. You shouldn't be concerned about it unless you experience dryness or a delay in pregnancy. In addition, foul-smelling, consistently watery, or chunky cervical mucus, or that which is green, gray, or brown, indicates infection and necessitates a consultation with a gynecologist.

Discover Solutions!