One of the most fascinating things a woman’s body does is sends physiological signs to indicate when she is fertile. Cervical fluid is arguably the most important of these signs to track when you’re trying to get pregnant, or if you’re trying to avoid it.
Cervical fluid is what many women have come to know as ‘discharge’, however this name truly simplifies the complexity and importance of this substance. Cervical fluid is produced under the influence of estrogen in the first half of a menstrual cycle, also known as the follicular phase, when estrogen sends a signal to cervical glands to start producing and secreting fluid. Every woman’s cervical fluid can follow a unique pattern of colour, consistency and timing but it typically begins after your period in a creamy or sticky form, slowly changing to have a wet texture and appearance.
Why is cervical fluid important for fertility?
Tracking your cervical fluid will help you identify when you are fertile and your most fertile days. Cervical fluid can be broken down into the following types:
Dry — Non fertile
Sticky— Low fertility
Creamy or lotion-y — Medium Fertility
Wet or watery — High Fertility
Stretchy and with an "egg white” quality — Peak Fertility
Research has found that timing intercourse according to the most fertile cervical fluid results in higher conception rates than timing based on other ovulation predictors such as the LH surge.
Certain cervical fluids can enhance rates of conception as they provide the perfect environment for sperm to survive. For example, the pH level of fertile cervical fluid is less acidic than the normal vaginal pH, and more similar to the alkaline pH of semen, creating a more hospitable environment overall. Fertile cervical fluid also has fibres that form straight pathways that supports the semens movement towards the fallopian tube where conception most frequently occurs.
How you can use cervical fluid to optimize chances of getting pregnant
If your goal is to get pregnant, timing intercourse with any day you see wet cervical fluid will vastly increase the likelihood of a positive pregnancy result. Sperm can only live for a few hours without the presence of cervical fluid, but up to 5 days if it is present. Stretchy, egg white fluid is the most fertile and is an indication that you will ovulate in the next 24-48 hours, so having intercourse on any day this type of fluid is present is essential.
There are also two other major signs your body gives you to let you know you are fertile. Read about them here.
Owen, M. (2013). Physiological Signs of Ovulation and Fertility Readily Observable by Women. The Linacre Quarterly, 80(1), 17-23. doi: 10.1179/0024363912z.0000000005
Weschler, T. (2015). Taking charge of your fertility. [New York]: William Morrow, an imprint of HarperCollins.