Cervical Mucus Test
The cervical mucus test is one female fertility test which you can perform yourself, in the privacy of your home, at very little or no expense. It does, however, require discipline and dedication, and it is relatively easy to make a mistake when observing cervical mucus. Basically, the mucus secreted by the cervix throughout the menstrual cycle changes in volume and consistency as you approach ovulation. Being able to recognize the type of secretions associated with ovulation will let you know when and if you are experiencing a normal fertile phase each month.
Your fertility doctor will not accept the results of a cervical mucus test as enough medical evidence on which to base a diagnosis of infertility. He will insist on other tests. Nevertheless, many women benefit psychologically from taking a constructive, pro-active approach to discovering why they are having problems getting pregnant.
You probably won't be surprised to hear that it's the hormonal fluctuations throughout the menstrual cycle which influence the amount of cervical mucus you secrete, and its texture. Just before ovulation, a healthy female reproductive system will produce a type of mucus that actually helps sperm cells stay alive for long enough to fertilize an egg. The consistency of the mucus also increases the sperm cells' swimming ability, giving them a better chance of reaching the egg. One cause of infertility in women is that their cervical mucus does not provide a good environment for sperm cells around the time of ovulation. So - how do you recognize sperm-friendly mucus when you are ovulating?
(Please note that all the times of the cycle given below, when certain types of secretions should be present, are estimated. The menstrual cycle differs from woman to woman. You would be best to consult your doctor if your cycle doesn't fit with the pattern described here.)
After your period finishes, for the next 3-4 days, you will probably have no secretions at all.
When the secretions begin, they should be cloudy in color and sticky in texture for the next 3-5 days.
Then the secretions will begin to increase steadily in volume for another 3-4 days. They may be clear in color, feel very wet, and be stretchy in consistency. This is your fertile period. Many women think the secretions at this time resemble raw egg whites. This type of mucus gives sperm cells the highest chance of survival in the cervix, helping them to progress into the uterus and up the fallopian tubes. Whether or not you experience these types of secretions, you should report your findings to your doctor.
After the stretchy and clear secretions end, you probably won't have any more secretions until 3 or 4 days after your next period finishes.
Examining Your Mucus
You need to check the volume and consistency of your secretions every day and record your findings in a chart. Before you perform each test you should wash your hands to avoid transferring any germs into your vagina or cervix. Another tip - be very careful if you have long fingernails.
Then you have three options:
- put your finger inside your vagina and circle it around to collect mucus
- use toilet tissue to collect the mucus by wiping from front to back
- put your finger further inside your vagina - as close to the cervix as possible - to collect the mucus
Then examine the color of the mucus and stretch it between two fingers to see how far it can be stretched before it breaks. Around the time of ovulation, it should stretch to several centimeters - in fact, it may not break at all.
When your cycle completes and your period starts again, take your results to your doctor to discuss them with him.