This week on the Menstrual Mastery podcast we’re talking all about my favorite cycle tracking sign - cervical fluid!
Everyone who comes to me for natural birth control and fertility support has one concern in common… Will I be able to see changes in my cervical fluid? What if I can’t notice anything?
First and foremost - YES, as long as you are not on hormonal birth control you will be able to see changes in your cervical fluid. Even if there’s a hormonal imbalance, even if you have an irregular cycle - there will be changes. The frequency of those changes is what will differ.
The reason why I say if you’re not on hormonal birth control is because both the pill and the hormonal IUD prevent pregnancy in part by messing with your natural cervical fluid production to make it more inhospitable to sperm. And, if you’re not ovulating - which you definitely aren’t while on the pill and may not be on the IUD either, then you won’t see the cyclical cervical fluid changes which occur primarily in relation to ovulation.
Some folks on the copper IUD even have a hard time spotting cervical fluid changes because the copper IUD also thickens cervical fluid, making it more inhospitable for sperm.
All of this is to say - if you are naturally cycling without the intervention of hormonal birth control or the copper IUD you WILL see changes in your cervical fluid.
Before we can dive into what those changes are and how you’ll go about tracking them, we need to take a giant step back and talk about what the heck cervical fluid even is.
What is cervical fluid?
Cervical fluid is a mucus-y fluid produced by the cervix under the influence of estrogen that can be seen and felt at the vaginal entrance and on underwear. Wet & slippery cervical fluid is crucial for pregnancy achievement and is made in preparation for ovulation. This wet and slippery fluid allows sperm to survive the acidic environment of the vagina and make the journey all the way up into the uterine tube (fallopian tube) where fertilization occurs. That’s right, vaginas are sperm killers y’all! Sperm on their own, without wet and slippery cervical fluid, rarely survive to make it past the vagina. Sperm are also a lot like a car driver on a new road trip without GPS or a map. They don’t know how to get where they need to go, nor enough gas to get there on their own. Sure they’ve got the right parts - the tail for steering & guiding, the speed for getting there quickly, but it’s still not enough. That’s where cervical fluid comes in and acts as the GPS and the fuel to get sperm to the egg in time for fertilization.
Types of Cervical Fluid
Cervical fluid progresses through a series of transitions leading up to ovulation until it finally reaches a peak egg-white like fluid, which is the most optimal type of fluid for fertilization. Let’s take a look at what this fluid transition looks like....
First we have our period bleed. That is not cervical fluid. Your period is a mix of blood and tissue that results from the shedding of your uterine lining with each cycle. Your period flows down through your cervix before exiting the body via the vaginal entrance, but your period fluid is not created by your cervix and therefore is not cervical fluid.
In the days after your period wraps up you may notice a dry sensation. That is to say the absence of a watery wet sensation. This is the lull before increasing levels of estrogen trigger our cervical fluid production for the new cycle.
In the week or so following your period you’ll likely begin to notice a watery and runny sensation as you walk around or even on your underwear. I always explain this type of cervical fluid as those gushes of water that you feel when you’re walking around that you know are not pee, but you’re like wtf is it then?! I can remember having these gushes as early as middle school. This wet and runny type of cervical fluid is generally the earliest type of cervical fluid that we see in each menstrual cycle and is a sign that your body is beginning its journey to ovulation for that cycle.
After the wet and runny fluid comes creamy and milky cervical fluid. This type of cervical fluid often looks like hand lotion or milk. It’s white and watery, but a little thicker than the previous wet and runny fluid. This is the next step in cervical fluid’s progression towards peak cervical fluid.
Then we have the streaked and stretchy cervical fluid phase. This is when cervical fluid starts to thicken and can be stretched just a little between your fingers. This type of fluid tends to be streaked with colors of white or pale yellow as it transitions from the creamy phase.
And then, we have the holy grail of cervical fluid - the eggwhite cervical fluid. This type of cervical fluid is clear, slippery, & goopy like RAW egg-whites. It can be stretched several inches between one’s fingers. Eggwhite cervical fluid is the optimal fluid for fertilization and the type of fluid that is made closest to ovulation for many. It is the best fluid for sperm mobility and transportation. Eggwhite fluid can be streaked with red or pink which is often from ovulation spotting whether or not we see that spotting in our underwear. *While spotting for a day or two around ovulation is relatively common and normal, please always discuss spotting with your doctor.
It’s important to note that we’re talking about a fluid that looks like RAW egg-whites, not white, chunky, cooked egg-whites. I often hear from folks that they know they’re ovulating because they see egg-white fluid and later discover that they were talking about a cooked egg-white consistency. That type of fluid is something else entirely.
The white, clumpy, cooked egg-white looking cervical fluid is a fluid that many of us refer to as “sticky” fluid. It’s made in the days from ovulation to the start of the period as a result of decreasing levels of estrogen and increasing levels of progesterone which serves to thicken and dry up wetter cervical fluid. This sticky fluid is much less useful for sperm and, in fact, often serves to keep sperm out of the uterus following ovulation when we can no longer conceive for that cycle.
To recap, here's the general transition that we see in cervical fluid in each menstrual cycle…
Dry → Wet & Runny → Creamy or Milky → Streaked & Stretchy → Egg-white → Sticky or Dry
When using the rules of a fertility awareness method like the Sympto-Thermal Double Check Method that I teach here at Sauvage Wellness you can use these cervical fluid transitions to avoid unprotected intercourse on the fertile days leading up to and just following ovulation and, together with basal body temperature tracking, prevent pregnancy naturally! However, without the rules of the sympto-thermal method observing cervical fluid changes is NOT a birth control method. It’s just tracking your cycle. It’s the rules of the sympto-thermal method that make this tracking a birth control method!
So how do you go about looking for cervical fluid?
Well, it’s so much easier than you might think. Cervical fluid, if it’s being adequately produced, will just be there. On your undies, on your toilet paper, it will be there. You won’t have to go searching inside your vagina for it. It will be there.
For folks with low estrogen levels, they may not notice much cervical fluid production or many cervical fluid changes. If this is the case, there are simple food, supplement, & lifestyle-based supports that can help balance the hormones and boost cervical fluid production. I help clients with this in Cycle Wisdom Course.
To check cervical fluid, simply touch the entrance of the vagina each morning with clean fingers prior to going pee and notice what you feel & see. What does it look like? What does it feel like? Does it stretch? Is there much of anything there?
You can also check what’s on a sheet of toilet paper if you prefer not to check using your fingers.
Then, throughout the day do a similar 10 second check each time you use the bathroom (or as many times as you can remember). At the end of the day record all the types of cervical fluid that you noticed.
It takes me less than 3 minutes a day total to keep track of my cervical fluid changes.
How can it possibly be this easy?
We’ve been taught that our feminine bodies are a mystery. That they are designed to bring us pain and to burden us each month. We’ve been taught to fear our fertility and shut it down with birth control. We’ve been taught that our bodies are complicated and we cannot understand them. But, none of this is true.
The feminine body - when unencumbered by hormonal birth control and copper IUDs - works in a predictable, cyclical fashion. She is sending you signs, physical, easy to see signs, every month to clue you in on where you are in your cycle. She wants you to know what’s going on inside of her. And, that pain and discomfort you may feel with your cycle is her way of telling you that something is off. That she needs support. Painful, burdensome menstrual cycles were not supposed to be your normal. If they are, it’s time to look at why that is.
Our education system has failed us. It has failed to appropriately educate us on how our bodies work. It’s as plain as that.
You don’t know how your body works because no one thought it was important to teach you. And, likely, your teachers didn’t even know how their bodies work either. It’s a long, frustrating cycle of women not knowing the truth about their bodies.
But, that stops here. With me.
I believe that your power lies in being able to embrace your natural rhythms, understand how your body works, and stop fighting your body and start living in alignment with it. Your menstrual cycle is your superpower, not your curse.
Are you ready to embrace your menstrual cycle for the superpower that it is?
Are you ready to finally learn how your body actually works and use it to your advantage rather than seeing your body as a burden all the time?
Do you want to learn how to USE your menstrual cycle as natural birth control, to have better periods, and to help you get pregnant when you’re ready?
Disclaimer: Brandy Oswald, Sauvage Wellness LLC, and her employees are not doctors, nurses, physicians, psychotherapists, or in anyway licensed medical practitioners and information presented here is to serve as an educational resource and not to be interpreted as: (1) medical advice; (2) a 100% effective birth control or pregnancy achievement options or (3) nutrition or health guidelines. By reading this you acknowledge that you understand that as a specialized form of consulting, fertility awareness education is not the same as professional or licensed therapy or medical advice and intervention; and recognize that it is your responsibility to seek such services from a licensed professional. Brandy Oswald is not a medical provider and cannot give medical advice. All information provided by Sauvage Wellness LLC and Brandy Oswald is of a general nature and is intended only for educational purposes to help with your personal health improvement goals and should not be relied on as medical advice. Always consult a physician with any health concerns and prior to changing your diet, lifestyle, supplements, birth control, fitness, or prescription medicine routine. Should you choose to use the information, yoga sequences, and meditations provided by Brandy Oswald it is of your own volition and you recognize that neither Brandy nor Sauvage Wellness LLC is not held liable for any intended or unintended outcomes. All viewers hereby WAIVE AND RELEASE Brandy Oswald and Sauvage Wellness LLC from any claim, demand, cause of action of any kind resulting from or related to my participation in classes, workshops, and all service offerings provided by Brandy and Sauvage Wellness. As a view you hereby acknowledge that you are fully responsible for any and all risks, injuries, or damages, known or unknown, which might occur as a result of your participation.