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What Happens to Cervical Mucus before Menstruation?

Cervical mucus production increases and is typically found in underwear just before ovulation.
It is normal for a woman's cervical mucus to change throughout her menstrual period.
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  • Written By: Donna Johnson
  • Edited By: Nancy Fann-Im
  • Last Modified Date: 29 August 2014
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Cervical mucus is a type of vaginal fluid discharge. The production of this mucus varies throughout the menstrual cycle, so the type of discharge present in the beginning will not be the same as the mucus before menstruation. Tracking changes in cervical mucus levels can help couples plan or avoid pregnancy, as the increase in estrogen levels just prior to and during ovulation change the amount and appearance of the fluid.

The first day of bleeding is day one in the menstruation cycle. The exact length of the menstrual period varies by woman, but the average length is three to five days. Periods ranging from two to seven days are still considered normal. During this time, unlike the cervical mucus before menstruation, the mucus will be hidden by the menstrual flow.

Following the menstrual period, there is generally little to no cervical mucus present. This period, often referred to as “dry days,” usually lasts for a few days. Sexual intercourse during the dry days is less likely to result in pregnancy. Since there is no set length for this phase of the cycle, however, daily monitoring of the cervical mucus before menstruation is advisable for anyone having unprotected sex.

After the dry days are over, cervical mucus increases in quantity. At first, the consistency is rather sticky or tacky. This is a sign that ovulation has most likely not yet occurred but probably will within a week or so.

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Next, cervical mucus takes on a cloudy appearance, and the amount will increase again. At this time, a woman may notice cervical mucus in her underwear, rather than only when she wipes or when she purposely checks for the fluid. Daily monitoring of mucus before menstruation becomes critical during these days, as this is the last phase of the cycle before ovulation. Sexual intercourse in the three days prior to ovulation may still result in pregnancy, so this phase is not considered a safe period for women using this method to avoid pregnancy.

At approximately day 14 of the menstrual cycle, ovulation will occur. Cervical mucus during ovulation is more abundant and takes on a clear, stretchy appearance. The appearance of the fluid at this time is comparable to egg whites. Sexual intercourse at any time that the egg white cervical mucus is present, generally about a three-day period, is more likely to result in conception than intercourse at any other time during the menstrual cycle.

After ovulation, cervical mucus will go through the various stages again, this time backward. The fluid will become cloudy again, then sticky. The cycle of mucus before menstruation may also include a few dry days just before the menstrual period begins. All these changes in cervical mucus take place in approximately 28 days, although a normal cycle may range anywhere from 21 to 45 days, depending on factors such as the woman’s age.

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Discuss this Article

anon940702
Post 4

I had sex on cycle days 15/16 and 17. My period was in late February and I'm on a 26/27 day cycle. I'm on cycle day 21 and I have no cervical mucus when I have in the past. Could I be pregnant?

burcinc
Post 3

Does cervical mucus completely disappear after menstruation?

I know that many women experience vaginal dryness after going into menopause, so I'm guessing that there is an important decrease.

My mom had once told me that even after menopause, she would experience some symptoms of periods during the time of the month even though she no longer menstruates. She said her breasts become tight and painful. I wonder if a change in cervical mucus occurs in menopausal women during the time of month as well.

ddljohn
Post 2

Is the appearance of cervical mucus really a good way to know if conception is a high probability or not?

I would like to get pregnant and I wish I could use this method to figure out my fertile days. I personally can never tell when I've ovulated and vaginal discharge always looks the same to me, like a clear slightly sticky fluid. Am I not paying enough attention?

discographer
Post 1

Thank you for this great explanation. I've been noticing all these changes during my monthly menstrual cycle but never knew what they meant. I've been wondering why discharge varies so much throughout the month.

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