How to Check Cervical Mucus

Two Parts:Checking Your Cervical MucusSustaining the Cervical Mucus Method

Many women use the characteristics of their cervical mucus to track their menstrual cycles because the quantity and consistency of cervical mucus present can provide important clues about a woman’s ovulation. This is sometimes called the Billings ovulation method or simply the ovulation method.[1] Some women who opt to use natural family planning (NFP) as a birth control method will check their cervical mucus to help prevent pregnancy. On the other hand, other women will monitor it to encourage pregnancy. Learning about the qualities of cervical mucus and checking it regularly may help you prevent or become pregnant, depending on your goal.

Part 1
Checking Your Cervical Mucus

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    Recognize the characteristics of cervical mucus. Before you can check your cervical mucus, learn about the characteristics of it throughout your cycle. This may help you more effectively track your menstrual cycle and ovulation.
    • You will likely not notice any cervical secretions for three to four days following the end of your menstrual period.[2]
    • After these initial few days, you may secrete scanty, cloudy, and sticky cervical mucus for three to five days.[3]
    • Thereafter, your cervical mucus will increase and be wet, which corresponds to the time just before and during ovulation.[4] The mucus may also feel thin, slippery and very stretchy.[5] This is also the time you are most fertile.[6]
    • Once you ovulate, you may not have any noticeable cervical secretions for up to two weeks before your next period.[7] You may also experience some thicker but sparse secretions.[8]
    • It’s important to recognize that the specific length of each of these phases can vary by woman. Keeping a record of your cervical mucus can help you identify how long each phase is in your own cycle.[9]
    • It may be difficult to differentiate between normal cervical secretions and semen or sexual lubrication during your first cycle. You might want to consider avoiding sexual intercourse during this time to help you better identify your normal cervical mucus.[10]
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    Keep a record of your mucus characteristics. Write down the specific characteristics of your cervical mucus on a daily basis. This will help you identify the specific phases of your cycle and when you are most fertile or should avoid sex. You should begin to notice a pattern after the first few cycles.[11]
    • Begin tracking the characteristics of your cervical mucus on the day after your period stops.[12]
    • Check every day, at about the same time of day to help you see patterns of change over time.
    • Make sure to record the color such as yellow, white, clear, or cloudy.[13]
    • Note the consistency: is it thick, sticky, or stretchy?[14]
    • Write down how the mucus feels to the touch. It may be dry, wet or slippery.[15] You may also want to feel your vulva and note down any sensations of dryness, moistness, or wetness.[16]
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    Check your cervical secretions before and after urinating. The best way to check your cervical secretions is to wipe before and after urinating and then examine the mucus on a piece of toilet tissue. This can effectively help you to track your cervical mucus and your cycle.
    • Use white toilet paper so that you can best identify the color of your cervical secretions.
    • Wipe from front to back using toilet tissue both before and after you urinate.[17]
    • Make sure to write down what you see on the toilet paper in your record.[18]
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    Analyze the cervical secretions in your underwear. You can also check your cervical mucus by analyzing any secretions that appear in your underwear. This can help you further identify where you are at in your cycle and may also be useful if you can’t find any mucus when wiping.
    • Write down the characteristics of any mucus you find in your underwear.
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    Examine your vulva and its sensations. Gently feeling your vulvar area with your fingers and note any sensations you feel such as dryness, wetness, or moistness. This can help identify changes in your cervical mucus or cycle.[19]
    • The vulva makes up the external genitals of women including the clitoris, labia, vaginal opening, and any surrounding skin or tissue.
    • Don’t feel uncomfortable or self-conscious touching your vulva. You’re not doing anything wrong.
    • Gently touch the various parts of your vulva to examine its texture. Make sure to feel inside of the labia as well.[20]
    • It’s a good idea to feel your vulva regularly so that you know what is normal for you.
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    Evaluate the record of your cervical mucus. After the first cycle or a couple of cycle, read through the record you’ve kept of your cervical mucus. This will help you begin to effectively evaluate your cycle and ovulation and may help prevent or promote pregnancy.

Part 2
Sustaining the Cervical Mucus Method

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    Stay consistent and motivated. Learning this method can take time and interpreting your mucus can take a couple of cycles. Staying consistent and motivated in the examination of your cervical mucus can help you successfully use it to prevent or promote pregnancy.[21]
    • If you have any questions, you can ask your doctor.[22]
    • It may take a few cycles to begin recognizing patterns in your cervical secretions and menstrual cycle. Don’t get discourage and stick with it.[23]
    • If you are unsure of your mucus and using this method as a form of birth control, you may want to use a backup method of birth control such as condoms.[24]
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    Understand factors that can change cervical mucus. Certain factors can change the character of your cervical mucus. Understanding what can alter your cervical mucus can help you more effectively identify secretions and changes in your cycle.[25]
    • Certain medications, feminine hygiene products such as tampons, having sex, or getting a pelvic exam with lubrication can change the appearance of your cervical mucus. If you notice a change in your mucus as a result of any of these factors, don’t worry.[26]
    • Avoid douching because it can wash away cervical secretions, which can make it difficult to notice changes in your mucus.[27]
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    Consider basal body temperature monitoring. Measure your basal body temperature in conjunction with your cervical mucus tracking. This method, which involves taking your temperature every morning, can help provide additional insight into your fertility cycle.
    • This method holds that your basal body temperature, or your body’s temperature while resting, will increase slightly-- 0.5-1 degree Fahrenheit-- during ovulation.[28]
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    Plan or avoid sexual intercourse during fertile days. Depending on if you are using the cervical mucus method to prevent or promote pregnancy, plan on having sex or avoid intercourse during the times that you are most fertile. This may increase or decrease your chances of getting pregnant.[29]
    • Remember that you are most fertile on the days that your cervical mucus increases and is thin and slippery.[30]
    • Be aware that this method is neither a fail-safe method of birth control nor a guarantee that you’ll get pregnant.
    • If you are using cervical mucus as a form of birth control, you may want to use a backup method such as condoms when you are most fertile.[31]
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    See your doctor. If you have any questions about using the cervical mucus method or you notice changes in your mucus, see your doctor. This can help rule out serious conditions and may help you more effectively use this method.
    • If you notice blood in your cervical secretions that do not correspond to your period, consult your doctor.
    • If your cervical mucus appears to be an unusual color, such as green, or has an usual odor, you should see your doctor.


  • Be patient. Most women find that it takes a few cycles to become familiar with the unique characteristics of their own cervical secretions.


  • This method does not prevent sexually transmitted diseases.

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Categories: Women’s Health