All women produce cervical mucus (otherwise known as vaginal discharge) throughout their menstrual cycle. It changes in consistency, amount and color depending on where in your cycle you are. It also often shows changes in the early stage of pregnancy. So, it isn’t too surprising that so many women ask “can cervical mucus tell if I’m pregnant?”
The answer to this is that, yes, it’s technically possible to spot changes in your cervical mucus when you’re in an early stage of pregnancy but the changes will usually be subtle and will vary considerably between women. Read on to find out more about whether changes in your vaginal discharge is ever a reliable way of detecting that you’re pregnant.
- Cervical Mucus – an Overview
- How do I Check my Cervical Mucus?
- What can you expect to see?
- Why do I have more Discharge before my Period?
- How Does Cervical Mucus Look in the Early Stage of Pregnancy?
- Why Does Cervical Mucus Change in Pregnancy?
- How Do I Know my Vaginal Discharge is Normal?
- Why is my Cervical Mucus Pink or Brown Tinged?
- Apart From Changes in my Cervical Mucus, What Other Signs of Early Pregnancy are There?
- Will my Cervical Mucus Change When I’m Fertile?
- My Cervical Mucus Changes
Cervical Mucus – an Overview
First, you need to understand what cervical mucus is. It’s a fluid secreted by glands around and inside the cervix (the neck of the womb). The consistency of this mucus changes during a woman’s reproductive cycle due to hormonal changes. It will change before pregnancy and it even changes during pregnancy. Another word for cervical mucus is “leucorrhoea.” While this term is used to describe all kinds of vaginal discharge, usually it’s used to describe mucus produced during pregnancy.
Cervical mucus has an important function in the body. It lubricates, cleans and maintains the vagina’s environment to keep it healthy. The changes in viscosity, appearance and quality of mucus will depend on which phase of your menstrual cycle you’re in. This means you can often detect whether you’re ovulating by checking your cervical mucus.
How do I Check my Cervical Mucus?
Carrying out regular checks on your vaginal discharge is a good way of tracking your menstrual cycle to pinpoint which days you’re ovulating on. You can check your mucus in three different ways, but whichever you choose, remember to thoroughly wash your hands both before and after.
- Using toilet paper – before peeing, use a piece of white toilet paper to wipe your vagina and check the color, feel and consistency of the mucus on the toilet tissue.
- Underwear – check to see whether there is any vaginal discharge evident on your underwear each day. When you’re nearing ovulation, you’ll notice your discharge will increase in volume.
- Fingers – when you use this method, you’ll get more accurate information. Wash your hands then insert one or two fingers into your vagina to check the stickiness, color and consistency of the mucus. The following are the typical results that are found throughout a menstrual cycle:
What can you expect to see?
- If the mucus is mostly dry and has no color your period has probably just ended. For a couple of days, you’ll be quite dry and you may notice little or no discharge at this time.
- If the mucus is cloudy and thick, you’re probably about 7 days into your cycle. You’ll be starting to approach ovulation at this point. You may also be in the third week of your cycle and you will have already ovulated.
- If the mucus is abundant, less viscous, clear and similar to egg white you are ovulating and, therefore, fertile.
Why do I have more Discharge before my Period?
For most women, less cervical mucus is produced after ovulation. Therefore, if you’re trying to conceive you may be wondering whether more discharge after you’ve ovulated is a sign that you’re pregnant. Although it may be a sign, it could be as a result of other factors. If the discharge is clear and watery, it’s simply your body getting ready to menstruate. If you’re pregnant, the mucus after you’ve ovulated won’t be runny or clear. Dry mucus or an absent discharge in the early stage of pregnancy is very rare. If you have conceived, you’ll usually notice clear, thick or creamy mucus both before and after you ovulate.
How Does Cervical Mucus Look in the Early Stage of Pregnancy?
In early pregnancy there’ll be subtle changes in your cervical mucus. There will usually be more of it but the change could be so slight that you might not notice it. Early in pregnancy, you might feel increased wetness and may spot more white-yellow dry discharge on your underwear.
Why Does Cervical Mucus Change in Pregnancy?
Mucus is naturally produced during your cycle to keep the tissues of your vagina healthy, protecting them from infection and irritation while keeping them lubricated. If you conceive, the hormone levels in your body rise dramatically. It is these changes that help to prepare your body to carry a baby. They also help to nourish and protect the growing fetus.
Those hormonal changes often lead to more vaginal discharge being produced. It will happen naturally with your body working harder to prevent infections of the vagina, particular in the later stage of pregnancy.
How Do I Know my Vaginal Discharge is Normal?
Healthy, normal cervical mucus will be clear, white or thin with a mild odor. Although cervical mucus will change during your cycle and in pregnancy, it will still have those characteristics. If your discharge has any of the following features, it isn’t normal:
- It smells bad
- It’s gray, green or bright yellow
- It causes swelling, irritation, burning or itching
If your mucus has any of those traits, you may have an infection. Visit your doctor if you spot these symptoms or changes.
Why is my Cervical Mucus Pink or Brown Tinged?
In the early stage of pregnancy you may spot pinkish or brown vaginal discharge. This is sometimes an indicator of implantation. Implantation occurs at the time when the embryo implants in the lining of the uterus. Although there isn’t any real evidence to prove implantation is the cause of this type of spotting, it takes its name from the timing.
Not all pregnant women experience implantation bleeding. Even if you spot brown or pink spotting it might not be an indicator of pregnancy. Mid-cycle spotting can be caused by several things including ovarian cysts and hormonal changes.
Apart From Changes in my Cervical Mucus, What Other Signs of Early Pregnancy are There?
An increased production of cervical mucus may be a sign of early pregnancy. However, since it can be a subtle change it can be easily overlooked. Some other, more noticeable, signs of early pregnancy include:
- Missing a period – note, though, that a number of other things including extreme exercise, stress, hormone imbalances, eating disorders and other medical problems could also result in a missed period
- Increased hunger, food cravings and avoiding certain foods
- Urinating more frequently because of chorionic gonadotropin – a pregnancy hormone
- Extreme fatigue as a result of increase progesterone levels
- Nausea (known as morning sickness, but it could occur at any time of day)
- Light spotting that may occur around 6-12 days following conception. This bleeding is usually pink or brown and won’t last longer than 48 hours
- Changes in the breasts including swelling, soreness and tenderness
- A metallic taste in the mouth
If you have missed a period and have any of these other signs, you should take a pregnancy test.
Will my Cervical Mucus Change When I’m Fertile?
If you aren’t pregnant yet but are trying to conceive, you may be wondering whether your cervical mucus will be able to let you know the most fertile time in your cycle. After all, if subtle changes in discharge can indicate pregnancy, surely, they can indicate ovulation too?
Indeed, your body will produce a special type of cervical mucus just before you ovulate. If you’re careful about tracking your cycle, you’ll probably learn how to spot which days you’re fertile.
If your vaginal discharge is slippery and clear, you’re probably just about to ovulate. You’ll be most fertile at this time so if you want to get pregnant it’s a good time to try for a baby. If your mucus is sticky, dry or cloudy, you’re unlikely to conceive.
If you record your cervical mucus’ characteristics during the month, patterns may be revealed in your cycle that help you work out your fertile days. However, you can’t depend on this method either as a method of contraception or as a failsafe way to conceive. There are more accurate ways of tracking your fertility such as fertility monitoring kits and ovulation tests you can purchase. Some check your urine while others involve taking your temperature. Both will give you a clear result that lets you know whether or not you’re at a fertile time in your cycle.
My Cervical Mucus Changes
Although it’s possible to spot small changes in your vaginal discharge in early pregnancy, it’s certainly not a reliable sign that you’ve conceived. The only really reliable method to determine whether you’re pregnant or not is to take a home pregnancy test or to visit your doctor to get tested. However, since your mucus will change at different stages of your cycle it’s a useful tool to help you track your fertility and to ensure your vagina is still healthy.