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What Is the Cervical Mucus Method?

Medically Reviewed by Jabeen Begum, MD on November 25, 2021

The cervical mucus method lets you track your ovulation days based on the quality of the mucus around your cervix so that you know when you are most fertile, or most able to become pregnant. 

After the assessment, you and your partner can plan the best days to have or avoid sexual intercourse.

The primary purpose of this natural method is to help couples maximize or minimize their chances of pregnancy.

Keep in mind that the cervical mucus method is not entirely foolproof, though; almost a quarter of women who use it to determine their level of fertility get pregnant. 

What Is the Cervical Mucus Method?

Cervical mucus is the fluid discharged from the lower part of the uterus. This fluid plays a significant role in successful egg formation. It protects the sperm when it tries to reach the egg in the woman's reproductive system (uterus). 

The amount and quality of cervical mucus changes throughout a woman’s monthly cycle. These changes help determine the right time for the female to ovulate or release eggs.

Evaluating the ovulating days helps identify the time you are most likely to get pregnant. You can use this information to schedule the days you should have sex or avoid doing it. You can also use contraceptives to avoid getting pregnant. Using this method, you can continue having sex.

How Is the Cervical Mucus Collected?

The procedure starts with daily observation of your cervical mucus. You should check the color and consistency of the mucus on your underwear, and also check with your fingers and thumb.

After examining your mucus, you should note down its description regularly on a tracking chart. You can also use a tracking list or a fertility tracker to compare each day's results. 

The typical changes in the cervical mucus include:

  • Dry. When the mucus usually discharges less, indicating a lack of fertility. 
  • Cloudy and sticky. Intermediate fertility.
  • Clear, slippery, and stretchy. This is a sign that you are about to ovulate or are in the middle of ovulation and are most likely to become pregnant.

If you want to get pregnant, keep the fertile period in mind. On these days, your mucus is clear, slippery, and stretchy. 

On the other hand, if you don't want to welcome a baby any time soon, don't have unprotected sex during your fertile days and three additional days after them.

Remember, if you are not seeking any other medical help, you might have to track your mucus changes twice or thrice before acting upon it. Once you feel confident enough, you can then plan unprotected sexual intercourse.

This natural family planning method is also known as the Billings ovulation method.

Why Choose the Cervical Mucus Method?

The cervical mucus method is one of the most effective natural birth control methods. It helps a female keep track of her fertility days each month. 

This method is all about using natural methods of birth control. It doesn't ask you to take any kind of hormones or medication before or after the test. It also doesn't require you to ingest contraceptives or other birth control pills.

Some people also use this method due to their religious beliefs, as the method is entirely natural. Other people go for it because they are hesitant to try hormonal methods.

What Are the Drawbacks of the Cervical Mucus Method?

The major drawback of the cervical mucus method is that it doesn't protect against sexually transmitted diseases.

Another disadvantage is that this method causes a higher risk for unintended pregnancy than other birth control methods. According to an estimation, around 23 out 100 women have a higher chance of getting pregnant in the first year of following this method.

In addition, the quality and amount of the cervical mucus may change depending on a variety of factors, including:

  • Vaginal infections
  • Douching
  • Use of lubricants
  • Sexual intercourse
  • Certain medications

If you are not sure about using the cervical mucus method, talk to your doctor. 

Show Sources

SOURCES:
American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists: "Fertility Awareness-Based Methods of Family Planning."
Cleveland Clinic "Cervical Mucus Method."
Mayo Clinic: "Cervical Mucus Method for Natural Family Planning."
UN School of Medicine: "Cervical Mucus Monitoring."

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