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Is My Cervical Mucus Normal?




Is My Cervical Mucus Normal? Let’s get something straight, cervical mucus is not just discharge and it is a very good thing! You want to see mucus throughout your menstrual cycle because it’s the very best real-time indicator you have of your fertile window. It tells you when you’re ovulating so you can use this information to avoid unplanned pregnancy or conceive naturally.

Mucus helps keep sperm alive and helps get us pregnant, and it protects us from vaginal infections. The change in mucus during our cycle also helps us to predict our next period and if you’re a control freak like me – you like knowing when your period is coming.

Some women see cervical mucus every single day. Some only see it a few days in a month. Others produce so much that they need to wear panty liners to protect their undies and others feel dry every single day.

And guess what, every single one of these women is completely, 100% normal.



HERE'S WHAT WE COVER:

● Get to know your cervix and the oh-so important role it plays throughout your menstrual cycle

● The easy way to check your cervical mucus daily

● How your mucus patterns change during your cycle (and why!)

● Why hormonal birth control affects your mucus (and pauses your menstrual cycle)

● Lifestyle factors that could be affecting your mucus

● When is mucus not normal?


LINKS & RESOURCES:


MENTIONED IN THIS EPISODE:


Get your free chapter of The Mana Guide to Understanding (and Loving!) Your Menstrual Cycle HERE


Episode 12 - Menstrual Cycle Masterclass Part 1: The Menstrual Phase

Episode 13 - Menstrual Cycle Masterclass Part 2: The Follicular Phase

Episode 14 - Menstrual Cycle Masterclass Part 3: The Ovulatory Phase

Episode 15 - Menstrual Cycle Masterclass Part 4: The Luteal Phase


OTHER FREE RESOURCES:


This time next week, your life could be completely different.

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Does your pelvic floor need a little extra TLC?

Take the Pelvic Floor Quiz or join my Free 3-day Pelvic Floor Bootcamp to start strengthening your pelvic floor toda

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Want to learn how to grow a healthy baby?

Watch my Pregnancy Superfoods Masterclass to learn all things pregnancy nutrition – including the key essential nutrients you and baby need and how to eat healthy even when you’re struggling with cravings, aversions and morning sickness.

Want to make sure you’re exercising safely during your pregnancy?

Get your Free Guide: 10 Exercises to Avoid During Pregnancy (and what to do instead).


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TRANSCRIPT:


Hello, and welcome to episode 18 of The Mana Women’s Wellness Podcast. I’m your host, Rachel and today I’m answering what is probably the most common question that pops up in my DMs - Is my cervical mucus normal?

And so I thought we would wrap up our final episode together in 2020 by answering this very very frequently asked question.

Cervical mucus is not discharge. It is a good thing! You want to see mucus throughout your menstrual cycle because it’s the very best real-time indicator we have of our fertile window. It tells us when we’re ovulating so we can either avoid sex or have sex if we’re wanting to conceive.

Mucus helps keep sperm alive and helps get us pregnant, and it protects us from vaginal infections. The change in mucus during our cycle also helps us to predict our next period and if you’re a control freak like me – you like knowing when your period is coming.

Every woman is different when it comes to cervical mucus. And comparing yours to actual egg whites in a photo cause a lot of concern and confusion when your mucus doesn’t quite look like that. Seriously, most photos of that egg white cervical mucus that shows optimal fertility and time for conception, well, in those photos it’s often actual egg whites. So it’s no wonder we’re all confused!

Some women see cervical mucus every single day. Some only see it a few days in a month. Others produce so much that they need to wear panty liners to protect their undies and others feel dry every single day.

And guess what, every single one of these women is completely, 100% normal.

So let’s start today with a little recap about what the cervix is and why the mucus it produces is basically everything when it comes to your fertility. Whether or not you’re charting for natural birth control or to conceive, your mucus is key to know when to avoid sex or when to make a baby.


The Cervix & The Menstrual Cycle

The cervix is the neck of the uterus that leads on into the vagina, so it basically connects the uterus to the vagina. And you can feel the cervix, so with a clean hand you can insert your finger into the vagina and feel the cervix and it’s little opening into the uterus.


The cervix has glands that have the sole function of producing mucus. As hormone levels change throughout the menstrual cycle, these glands will produce different types of mucus. As your period comes to an end, you are entering a non-fertile phase of the menstrual cycle. The cervix will physically close and a thick mucus plug will form within it. This mucus plug closes the cervix and blocks sperm cells from entering the uterus. So if you have sex and ejaculation occurs, sperm cannot pass through the cervix to get to the uterus, as so will die in the vagina after a couple of hours. In the phase between your period and ovulation, you are not fertile and you cannot get pregnant because when this mucus plug closes the cervix, you are not fertile.


So after menstruation there is not much mucus. If you notice mucus, it’s often quite dry and sticky. As ovulation approaches, so too does the opportunity for sperm to fertilise an egg, and so the body creates an environment that will keep sperm alive inside the vagina. As we approach ovulation, this thick mucus plug will break down, the cervix opens and you may notice a fluid or wet sensation. The glands in the cervix are now secreting a thin, watery, lubricative fluid that nourishes sperm and helps it to move through the vagina towards the egg. Your cervical mucus becomes thinner, wetter and clearer. Just before ovulation when fertility is at its peak, the mucus looks like egg whites, it’s heavier and jelly-like; it is able to be stretched between the fingers. And you can often feel that lubricative sensation as you go about your day.

Once ovulation has occurred, this cervical mucus will dry up quite suddenly and you’ll feel dry again. The cervix will again close up with another mucus plug. If you’re not pregnant, the cervix will open up again and the mucus plug will dissolve in the days leading up to your next period.


As I’ve said many times before, mucus, or cervical fluid, whatever you want to call it, it is the key to understanding your fertility. Cervical mucus can keep sperm alive for up to 5 days inside the female reproductive system. Without it, sperm dies within hours and makes pregnancy virtually impossible.


Changes in colour, thickness, texture and amount are influenced by hormonal changes, and so will change according to phase of the menstrual cycle and that will help you to decide where you are in your cycle on any given day.


How to Check Your Cervical Mucus

You can look at your cervical mucus daily just by looking at your underwear or on toilet paper after wiping. If you are struggling to see anything, you can try wiping before going to the toilet, or mucus may be more noticeable after a bowel motion.


Many women refer to their cervical mucus as discharge, but please don’t confuse it with other vaginal secretions that are not cervical mucus. And I’ll talk about other types of discharge a bit later on.


Now, you do not need to stick your fingers inside your vagina and scoop out mucus with your fingers every day. In fact, even though some people do suggest this, please don’t, because when you put things in your vagina, what happens? Even if it’s very slight, you’ll likely get the production of other secretions involved in arousal and even if you’re not aroused, this is a protective mechanism by the vagina to protect the delicate tissues in the vaginal wall from getting damaged by the possible physical trauma of putting your finger, a penis, anything else inside it.


So, you can take it off the toilet paper or your undies and roll it around your fingers if you really want to, but don’t overthink it. When I was teaching myself to track my cycle, the thing that confused me most was all of the different descriptions of mucus and judging from the DMs I receive on the regular, I’m guessing we’re all in the same boat here because a lot of the questions you guys are asking are about what is egg white, what it creamy, what is sticky. The most mind-blowing moment for me when I trained to become a fertility educator was when the marvellous instructor broke it all down into one simple question. Are you wet or are you dry?


And that’s what it comes down to. As you go about your day, you do feel wet or dry around your vulva? And then, if you want to add more detail once you’ve got the hang of wet or dry, then you can add words like sticky or wet or lube or slippery, but you don’t have to, to make this work for you, and you can use whatever the hell words you want to use that make sense to you and what you’re seeing. If your peak fertile mucus doesn’t resemble egg white, that’s totally ok!


Cervical Mucus Patterns

So, cervical mucus will quite suddenly disappear or change in quality the day after you ovulate. If you notice that obvious fertile cervical mucus but then it disappears and returns a few days later, you may have had an unsuccessful attempt at ovulation. Your mucus returns because your body is attempting ovulation again. This is quite common in women with longer cycles who are affected by stress, illness or polycystic ovaries.

Every woman has different cervical mucus patterns. Some may easily be able to notice distinct wet and dry mucus patterns according to their cycle. Others may notice mucus throughout their cycle, while others may struggle to observe any. You can use that combination of your main fertile signs – temperature, position of your cervix, to really clarify when ovulation has occurred, which I do recommend if you’re having trouble with just mucus. But again, you can use this method effectively just by asking yourself that one question – wet or dry?

I’m not going to get into the specifics here because it will get super confusing, super fast. But, basically it’s not just one type of cell in the cervix that produces your cervical mucus. There are actually lots of different cells in the cervix, called crypts, that produce lots of different types of mucus.

So, the different mucus types that you see throughout the cycle. A different crypt is making each type. And they all switch on and off at different times of the menstrual cycle. I’m not going to dive deeper than that because I will lose you fast, but this is why our mucus changes literally from one day to the next.

Changes in Cervical Mucus Throughout The Menstrual Cycle

So, let’s break it down now by each phase of the menstrual cycle. And if you’re not familiar with the phases of the menstrual cycle yet, I would encourage you to go back and listen to my Menstrual Cycle Masterclass Series that broke each phase of the cycle down over 4 episodes – so that’s episodes 12 to 15.

So, I’m going to assume you’ve listened to those episodes and you have a bit of an understanding about the menstrual cycle, or I’ll just end up repeating myself. And if you have been listening and following along, this is a good opportunity to test yourself a little.

So first up we have menstrual phase – when our period occurs at the start of a new cycle. Now have a think for a moment for each phase that I talk about – are we fertile or non-fertile? And why? What makes us fertile or non fertile during each phase? Can you remember?

It’s all about mucus.

So in the menstrual phase – we are potentially fertile. Why? Because our bleeding makes it hard to properly monitor our cervical mucus and because there is no mucus plug at the cervix to block sperm from entering. Why is there no plug? Because we are trying to flush out the unfertilised egg and endometrial lining from our last cycle. So, if you don’t want to get pregnant, don’t have unprotected sex during your period. If you do want to get pregnant, your period isn’t really the best timing, but have a good time if you wish to do so.

Ok, next phase – the follicular phase.

We are – fertile or not fertile? We’re not fertile. And why? Because our thick mucus plug has reformed and we are producing either very little mucus and feeling quite dry or we’re producing sticky, tacky mucus that won’t help sperm to swim to the egg (because the egg hasn’t been released yet, so why would our bodies bother?) – think of the type of mucus you would need to form the plug – I think of a dried glob of glue or that glob of dried tomato sauce at the top of the bottle and when you squeeze, nothing comes out because that plug has blocked it.

So, next up, the main event is ovulation – the egg is released and we are fertile. If we’re fertile, our cervix is producing thin, slippery, clear mucus. It might start out a little more white and creamy in the days leading up to our peak day – and then we’ll have a day or two of that really slippery wet mucus where you can probably even feel it around your vulva. That mucus plug is gone because we want that sperm swimming straight for the egg that’s waiting to be fertilised.

And the final phase, after ovulation, we are non fertile again. Why? Because the party’s over. The body’s now trying to decide if the egg has been fertilised or not, but it’s acting like it has been and so it’s preparing for implantation and pregnancy. So it’s not worrying about keeping sperm alive that are coming late to the party, because the body thinks the job’s already done! So, that mucus plug reforms and we’re quite dry again, or we might have some sticky mucus. In the day or two before our next period, our mucus plug breaks down and we get that feeling like we’ve just got our period, but nope, it’s a false alarm. And once that mucus plug breaks down and our cycle starts all over again, we consider ourselves potentially fertile.

Birth Control & Cervical Mucus

So, next I want to talk about hormonal birth control and the effect it has on your cervical mucus. But first, think about how birth control actually works. All hormonal contraceptives prevent pregnancy by preventing ovulation. For example, the time that you’re on the pill, you’re not ovulating. You have a bleed every month when you stop taking your hormone pill and switch to the sugar pill, but it’s not a true menstrual bleed, it’s actually a withdrawal bleed from sudden change in hormone levels when you stop taking the pill. Because if you’re not ovulating, you’re not menstruating. Because you’re not flushing the egg and the endometrial lining from your uterus because an egg was never released and the uterine lining never thickened to prepare for implantation of the fertilised egg.


So your menstrual cycle is really on pause for as long as you’re on hormonal contraceptives, scary but true, your body is in a menopausal state. The uterine lining stays thin and the cervix produces thicker mucus that blocks movement of sperm, rather than the thinner, wet and slippery mucus that helps sperm to swim.


And when we think about how old young women are when they start taking hormonal contraceptives, often the pill, often their menstrual cycles haven’t really established themselves yet. And then when you think about women staying on these artificial hormones until they’re ready to have a baby in their 20s, their 30s, their 40s – well, that’s a hell of a long time for the body to be in that menopausal state – in our prime childbearing years too – and so when you think that we’ve been suppressing ovulation for years and years, suddenly we expect it all to work normally for us right away when we’ve been telling our bodies not to do it for so long – and when you think of it that way, it’s really no wonder that it can take the body even a couple of years for our menstrual cycles to return to some degree of normal after we stop hormonal contraception.


Some women are lucky and their periods come back right away, others not so much. And that’s why I suggest stopping the pill 18 months, 2 years, before you’re ready to start trying to get pregnant, because that’s how long it can take for some women’s cycle to normalise.

So, the type of contraceptive you’ve been using will affect the type of mucus pattern you see. The length of your menstrual cycle will eventually go back to that average range for you, but it can take time, and you may have uncovered an underlying problem that might have gone untreated while the contraceptive was being used too, which masked what was happening.

So, I’ve gone off on a bit of a pill tangent here and I completely get any frustration and stress you might be feeling if you’re dealing with wonky cycles after using hormonal contraceptives for a long time. I was on the pill for 10 years and I was so stressed out and frustrated that my cycles were suddenly all over the place. Mine were really short and I just felt dry all of the time and could not for the life of me see any of this lovely egg white mucus all the books were telling me about. So I get it. But patience is key here. Chart what you see or feel every single day, no matter how small and insignificant it might seem. Your body is cyclical and it will return to a cycle.

Other Factors Affecting Your Mucus

Now there are other lifestyle factors that can affect your mucus too. If you’re stressed, so emotionally stressed, or your body is under physical stressed through illness, over-exercise, poor diet…if you have polycystic ovaries or PCOS, if you’ve recently stopped contraceptives, or if you’ve recently experienced miscarriage or termination of pregnancy…all of these things can have a huge effect on your hormone balance and your cycle, so there’s a good chance your body might have to attempt ovulation a few times before it’s successful. Which may mean you see that fertile mucus for a couple of days, then it disappears, then it comes back a couple of days, a week, later. And that might happen a couple of times too before ovulation is successful. But, you can only confirm ovulation when you get your next period.

So, the more you understand your mucus patterns and what your normal looks like, the easier it will be to know when there are deviations from your normal – which absolutely can happen if you’ve had a particularly stressful month, or you’ve travelled between time zones, or not sleeping well. Anything like that can really disrupt a cycle.

Infection and Vaginal Discharge

Now the final thing I want to talk about today is when your cervical mucus is not normal for you. And here I’m talking about infection or any sort of discharge that has nothing to do with your fertility and may be a sign that something else is going on.

There are many different types of infections and I chatted with Joanna Macmeikan about this in a lot more detail in Episode 17 so go check that one out if you want to know more about vaginal infections and how the good bacteria that live in our lady parts help with maintaining balance down there.

So I’m not going to go into a heap of detail about this, but basically if you notice any discharge that is unusual for you. It has a smell, or a texture or a colour that is out of the ordinary and just doesn’t seem right, go pay your doctor a visit and get that checked out. You want to nip this stuff in the bud quickly because if infection enters the uterus from the vulva and vagina, there is a risk of permanent damage to your reproductive organs and obviously that can affect your fertility. So anything strange, get checked out and don’t treat it yourself or with Dr Google.

Now as I said at the start of this episode, this is the very last episode of 2020. We are heading into summer in Melbourne, it’s been a very long and very draining year in lockdown so I’m going to be taking a break and enjoying the sunshine as best I can. I’m also working on some pretty special things behind the scenes right now, include a brand new website, and I can’t wait to share it all with you in early 2021.

As always, you can check out the shownotes and blog posts for every episode of The Mana Women’s Wellness Podcast and as I said, I’ll be launching a new website soon so if you want to check out the blog or grab yourself some freebies or even check out my digital shop, make sure you jump on now before you forget because there is a chance the website might be down for a little while as I make the transition to the shiny new website.


I’ll be coming back in early 2021 for another brand new season of the podcast, so make sure you binge any episodes you’ve missed this year and if you’re all up to date and you want something to tide you over for a couple of months you can sign up from my free 3 day Pelvic Floor Bootcamp, or maybe join my 7 Day Wellness Challenge – that’s a good one if you’ve got any new year’s resolutions to improve your health, or if you’re planning a pregnancy or currently pregnant, you can in to my Pregnancy Superfoods Masterclass too.


Head over to www.manawomenswellness.com/freebies to get a heap of free resources but get in quick because if your luck is anything like mine, you’ll put it off and when you finally get around to it, you just know that the website will be in transition phase. I promise to get it all done as quick as I can but it’s technology, so I’m preparing you for the worst.

Let me wrap up now by saying a huge, huge thank you for tuning in to The Mana Women’s Wellness Podcast in its very first season. I have an absolute blast creating these episodes, chatting to listeners and answering your questions. Please feel free to send me a DM if you want to have a chat or make any suggestions for topics you’d like me to cover when I come back next year. I’ve had some great suggestions already and I can’t wait to jump in and start recording. If you haven’t done so already, hit subscribe so you’ll be the very first to know when new episodes drop, and please leave me a rating and review on itunes for good karma too.

I’ll still be floating around on Instagram so I’ll see you there. Take care, stay safe and remember that knowledge is power. When you truly understand your body, you are empowered to make informed decisions and take control of your health!

Until next time.

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