Why check your vaginal mucus?
As a woman’s body prepares to release an egg her vaginal mucus normally goes through some recognisable changes. Many women rely solely on this physical sign to detect when they are ovulating and time their sexual intercourse accordingly. Observing your mucus daily can help you to compare differences and identify the various stages of your menstrual cycle, as well as your most fertile days. Try to check your mucus at around the same time each day usually in the afternoons or early evenings (or prior to sexual intercourse). Record your daily findings on your fertility chart. You may prefer to use your own words if the ones we suggest do not really describe your mucus well. Mucus changes are helpful if you have irregular periods, or when breastfeeding and waiting for periods to return. However, they may be difficult to identify when you are sexually active and not using condoms because fertile mucus can be confused with semen left after intercourse (about 24 hours after having sex).
Some couples use condoms for one or more menstrual cycles (or parts of the cycle) to help read vaginal mucus changes more accurately, so that semen doesn’t confuse the picture. Others alternate their mucus reading days. For example, read their mucus one afternoon, have sex that evening, miss reading their mucus the next day and then read their mucus the following day and so on. If you have a vaginal infection such as thrush or Gardnerella (or a sexually transmitted infection), these will alter your vaginal discharge making it more difficult to interpret. Make notes about these on your chart on the relevant days.
How to check
You need to check your vaginal mucus on the days you are not bleeding (having a period). This can be done by placing your fingers at the opening of your vagina or looking for mucus or discharge on your underwear or on toilet paper after wiping yourself.
Features of the mucus you need to consider include:
- What colour it is Is it whitish, or yellowish, cloudy or clear or bloodstained?
- What it feels like. Is it pasty, thick, tacky or sticky? Is it flaky or crumbly or is it thin, wet and slippery (like raw egg white)?
- How much is there. Is there a lot of mucus or hardly any?