When you are charting, you need to be aware of your symptoms. Your cervical fluid or mucus is one of the most important clues to your body's approaching ovulation. Temping is helpful in recognizing when you have , but not when you are about to.
Cervical fluid observation is necessary if you are TTA. If you are seriously TTC, you need to know this too. There is about a 5-6 day fertile window a cycle where you need to aim to have . For more information on the fertile window you can read this article Timing Intercourse to Achieve Pregnancy: Current Evidence. Fertile CM acts like a ladder helping sperm migrate through the cervix.
From the Pre-seed forum...
After ejaculation, sperm have to be able to swim through the cervix to reach the Fallopian Tube where fertilization of the egg occurs. The sperm that can fertilize the egg begin leaving the ejaculate within 1 min after deposition, and no sperm that get to the Fallopian Tube have ever been proven to do so after 30 min of ejaculation. The "cervical reservoir" of sperm is not an actual pool of fertilizing sperm.
Cervical fluid is to the woman what seminal fluid is to the man. Since men are always fertile, they produce seminal fluid continually. Women on the other hand are only fertile the few days around ovulation, and therefore only produce the substance necessary for sperm nourishment and mobility during that time. It is fairly intuitive. Sperm require a medium in which to live, move and thrive-otherwise they will die. Once sperm travel from the penis to the vagina, they need an analogus substance to sustain them....In essence, the fertile cervical fluid functions exactly like the seminal fluid. It provides an alkaline medium to protect the sperm from an otherwise acidic vagina. In addition, it provides nourishment for the sperm, acts as a filtering mechanism and functions as a medium in which to move.
Mucus is one of the signals your body sends out to let you know ovulation is approaching. You can learn to tell the difference between the different types of mucus your body produces each month and interpret these signals. Mucus production begins a few days before ovulation. At any sign of mucus, especially stretchy, clear or watery mucus be sure to use protection. Ideally, you should be using protection before any fertile mucus appears, since it is present in the vagina before being visible on the outside. The earliest way to detect the status of your mucus is by observing your cervix with a speculum or by reaching inside with two fingers and scooping some of the mucus off the face of the cervix and examining it.
Estrogen is the hormone which regulates the condition and consistency of vaginal mucus. At the beginning and the end of the menstrual cycle when estrogen levels are low, there will be very little mucus. What little there is tends to be sticky, clumpy and whitish in color.
As the fertile time approaches estrogen levels increase as the body prepares for ovulation. The quantity of mucus increases in relation to the estrogen levels, becoming thinner, somewhat milky. The level of estrogen continues to rise, causing the mucus to get clearer and more watery. When the estrogen level peaks, right before ovulation, the mucus gets slick, slippery and you may be able to stretch an unbroken strand between your fingers. Fertile mucus helps the sperm find its way into the cervix, away from the dangers of the acidic vagina. The drawing to the left is what the sperm and mucus would look like magnified many times.
Look for mucus on the toilet paper. Check before urination and after. Touch it, how does it feel? Does it look clear? Is there any stretch?
After ovulation the hormone progesterone causes the mucus to change to an infertile type within a day or two. The mucus again diminishes in quantity, becoming thick, sticky and opaque white or yellow from cellular matter and protein content. Often collecting in the opening of the cervix, forming an impenetrable barrier, preventing sperm or anything else from entering the uterus.
Check your mucus at times when you are not ready to make love, during sexual arousal your body will supply extra lubricating juices.
You will probably be wet the day after making love and determining the condition of your mucus may be difficult. Also using foam, spermacides or a lubricant inside the vagina will change the texture and consistency of the mucus. As you become more experienced, you can learn to tell the difference between fertile mucus, your body's juices, and semen.
The use of antihistamines dries up the cervical mucus, which could be confusing for a woman who is using the mucus method as her warning for approaching ovulation.
Any mucus may mean ovulation is approaching, so take precautions, use protection! Women have been known to ovulate twice during one cycle, this usually happens within 24 hours of the first egg. And get pregnant while having their period, however, this may be due to a short cycle that month. Fertile mucus may be present during the time of menstruation and be masked by the menstrual blood, so that she does in fact become pregnant from having unprotected sex during her period. The sperm are there waiting when ovulation occurs days later. It is unlikely that an egg will actually be released during menstruation because the hormones are not present to allow this to happen.
Cervical fluid is the more evident sign of impending ovulation. Estrogen is responsible for producing cervical fluid. When your period is over, you will be dry for a few days. The dry days will turn to sticky days. Dry and sticky days are known as "sub-fertile" days- or a time when your fertility is very low.
After the dry or sticky days, normal cervical fluid usually changes to watery or creamy- whitish or clear in color and very thin. This is an indicator of rising fertility- or rising estrogen in your system. Some women may only get watery or creamy cervical fluid during their peak fertility. A few women may never notice cervical fluid at all. It is a good sign if you are producing cervical fluid because it is the medium that sperm need to swim up through your cervix and into your uterus. Sperm can survive days longer in good cervical fluid.
After the watery/creamy phase, most women will start to produce a new kind of cervical fluid called "Egg White" because it resembles the color and consistency of raw egg whites. This is the most fertile kind of cervical fluid. Egg White cervical fluid is stretchy and clear, or it may have white streaks or even streaks of blood in it. Sperm live the longest in Egg White cervical fluid and the more you have the better!
Abruptly after ovulation, or even the day of ovulation, you will become dry again, or back to sticky cervical fluid. You should remain this way until your next period arrives. Many women notice a lot of creamy or watery cervical fluid before their period arrives. This is completely normal.
Sticky/Dry= Not fertile (Intercourse is not likely to increase your chances of pregnancy)
Creamy/Watery= Fertile (Intercourse will increase the chance of pregnancy)
Egg White= Very fertile (Intercourse greatly increases the odds of pregnancy)
Sensation is very important and often the most difficult to learn. Throughout the day the presence or absence of mucus will be recognised by the sensation at the vulva (the vaginal lips), the way the beginning of a period is noticed. The sensation may be a distinct feeling of dryness, of dampness or moistness, stickiness, wetness, slipperiness or lubrication.
Soft white toilet tissue should be used to blot or wipe the vulva. There may be dampness only on the tissue resulting from vaginal moistness. This moistness soaks into the tissue and any cervical mucus will appear raised as a blob on the tissue. The colour should be noted. It may be white, creamy, opaque, or transparent (clear).
Mucus is often noticed on underclothing, where it will have dried slightly causing some alteration in its characteristics.
A finger-tip can be lightly applied to the mucus on the tissue and then pulled gently away to test its capacity to stretch. It may feel sticky and break easily, or it may feel smoother and slippery like raw egg white and stretch between the thumb and first finger, from a little up to several inches before it breaks. This stretchiness is described as the Spinnbarkeit or Spinn effect, and shows that the mucus is highly fertile.
The fertile phase
As the oestrogen levels rise, cervical mucus will be felt at the vulva.
At first it will give a sensation of moistness or stickiness and will appear in scant amounts - white or creamy-coloured.
On finger testing the mucus will hold its shape and break easily.
The mucus goes through a transitional phase where increasing amounts of cloudy mucus secretion may be observed.
It may be slightly stretchy on finger testing producing a wetter sensation at the vulva.
As the oestrogen levels continue to rise with approaching ovulation, the mucus will become more profuse, and there may be up to a tenfold increase in volume.
It will give a sensation of lubrication or slipperiness at the vulva.
The appearance will be similar to that of raw egg white, thin, watery and transparent.
On finger-testing this highly fertile mucus may stretch for several inches before it breaks.
Fertile mucus maintains the life of sperm, nourishes it and allows it to pass freely through the cervix.
In fertile mucus, sperm may live for up to three days, in rare circumstances for five days or even longer.
Peak day denotes the LAST day on which this highly fertile-type slippery, transparent, stretchy mucus is either seen or felt.
Guidelines for achieving pregnancy - Using mucus symptom onlyCouples wishing to achieve pregnancy should have intercourse on any day when highly fertile-type mucus is present.
Frequently the day of maximum amount of highly fertile mucus precedes peak day by one or two days.
Peak day and the two days preceding peak
are the days of maximum fertility
Guidelines for avoiding pregnancy - Using mucus symptom only
Pre-ovulatory relatively infertile phase:
Dry days following the period are relatively infertile. Any change from the sensation of true dryness or any visible mucus warns of approaching fertility and should be regarded as fertile.
Intercourse should be restricted to evenings to allow time for observation of mucus symptom during the day.
It is unwise to have intercourse on consecutive evenings to avoid confusion between cervical mucus and seminal fluid.
Safe on alternate dry evenings
Post-ovulatory infertile phase
If a woman is relying on the mucus symptom alone, the post-ovulatory infertile phase starts on the fourth day after peak day.
(This interval allows for the fact that peak day does not coincide precisely with the day of ovulation. It allows for the life of the ovum and makes provision for a second ovulation.)
Oestrogen produced by the ovaries during ovarian activity causes production of mucus by the cervix and it also causes growth and shedding of the epithelial cells lining the vagina, the responses depending on the degree of ovarian activity and on the amounts of oestrogen being produced......
Before ovulation can occur a follicle containing an egg must commence and complete its rapid growth phase and this causes marked changes in the vaginal discharges. The oestrogen output rises from a base line corresponding to minimal or absent follicular activity and increases during the rapid growth phase at a rate of approximately 1.5 times per day over a period of 5-6 days.....Thus any change in the BIP can herald either the beginning of another BIP associated with another phase of infertility or, more usually, the beginning of the rapid growth phase of a follicle associated with the fertile phase of the cycle and impending ovulation......
The LH surge which initiates ovulation of the developed follicle, also causes the second ovarian hormone, progesterone, to be produced by the follicle. This production is small but significant at first and then increases rapidly after ovulation. This progesterone strongly reverses the action of oestrogen on the cervix and vaginal epithelium and causes the discharges to rapidly lose their fertile characteristics. This change due to progesterone (the "progesterone change" or "PC") is readily recognized. It is a very important symptom because it shows definitely that ovulation is occurring and is closely related in time to ovulation
p. 87, point 13.
If you find it hard to differentiate between cervical fluid and basic vaginal secretions, remember that cervical fluid is insoluble. A little trick that can help you initially learn to tell the difference is the glass of water test. Take the sample between two fingers and dip it into a glass of water. If it is true cervical fluid, it will usually form a blob that sinks to the bottom. If it's basic vaginal secretions, it will simply dissolve.
Source Make sure not to confuse semen with cervical fluid. They look and feel very similar. Semen will dry up very quickly upon your fingertips and is more rubbery is consistency. It may also tend to be foamy. Semen is little more white in color rather than clear like eggwhite fluid. To help you identify the difference, when urinating eggwhite cervical fluid will often hit the water and form into a ball while it sinks to the bottom .
Source If you find that you have more watery or eggwhite days than you would expect and that these often follow days or nights that you had intercourse, then you may be mistaking seminal and cervical fluid. They are quite similar but you will find that fertile cervical fluid (eggwhite) is clear and stretchy and shiny. It will stretch a couple of inches without breaking. Semen may be more whitish and will break when pulled.
Source Be aware that semen can mask true cervical fluid. Semen at a glance looks a lot like the egg-white type fluid - it's fairly clear and it stretches. However semen will "break" easier that cervical fluid, and semen will evaporate much quicker than cervical fluid. Be sure to mark on your chart when you have intercourse, to help in determining the type of cervical fluid you find.
5. Be sure to check when you are not sexually aroused, since sexual lubrication can mask cervical fluid.
8. Glance away before looking at the cervical fluid. Focus on the quality as you rub your fingers together. Does it feel dry? Sticky? Creamy? Slippery or lubricative (like eggwhite)?
13. If you find it hard to differentiate between cervical fluid and basic vaginal secretions, remember that cervical fluid is insoluble....If it is true cervical fluid, it will usually form a blob that sinks to the bottom. If it's basic vaginal secretions, it will simply dissolve.