Trying to conceive can be exciting – but also a stressful and confusing time as you start to notice new things about your body. You might find yourself with endless questions about how you’re feeling and what you’re experiencing – and you aren’t the only one! Many people find themselves noticing signals from their body that they may have ignored before. For some, it can be helpful to understand if their experiences are considered “normal” compared to others who are also trying to get pregnant.
While there might be some similarities, each person’s experience getting pregnant is different. Here’s what you need to know if you’ve noticed egg-white cervical mucus (EWCM) before or after ovulation:
What is ovulation?
At the heart of getting pregnant is ovulation. Every month, your ovaries release a mature egg into your Fallopian tube. This egg lives in the Fallopian tube for 12 to 24 hours, waiting for sperm to join in on the fun. Twelve to 24 hours isn’t a long time, which is why it’s important to plan to have sex during this ovulation window. When it comes to your partner’s role in this process, it’s good to know that ejaculated sperm can remain viable for several days inside the female body. Having live sperm in your fallopian tubes during ovulation gives you the best chance of getting pregnant: may the odds be in your favor.
You don’t have to guess when your egg will make its guest appearance in the Fallopian tube. Ovulation testing measures the hormonal changes that take place in your body when you ovulate, so you can make sure you don’t miss this narrow window each month.
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What are the symptoms of ovulation?
No two menstrual cycles are created equal. In fact, the timing of ovulation varies widely between people. In an average menstrual cycle, ovulation takes place roughly 14 days before the start of the next period. For many women, ovulation takes place four days before or after the middle of their cycle. However, because cycle length varies, you can determine your own cycle midpoint through ovulation testing or by keeping a menstrual calendar.
Another way to recognize ovulation is through changes in your body throughout the month. Women may notice clear, wet, stretchy secretions coming from their vagina before ovulation starts. Then, just like that, the secretions start to become less noticeable as ovulation ends and cervical mucus decreases.
Keeping track of your basal body temperature is another way to pinpoint whether you’re ovulating. When you’re ovulating, you’ll notice the numbers on your thermometer creep upwards, as the body increases slightly in temperature during ovulation. Finally, ovulation testing is the gold standard for tracking ovulation. Using easy, at-home, test kits, you can measure whether the hormones in your urine are surging, indicating ovulation is taking place.
What is egg-white cervical mucus?
Looking out for changes in your vaginal secretions around the time of ovulation is a way of pinpointing ovulation. Because these changes can be subtle, and vary from person to person, other methods of detecting ovulation such as ovulation testing generally yield more reliable results.
Cervical mucus plays a more important role than you’d think – it helps provide nourishment and protection for sperm before it meets with the egg. Ovulation brings a surge in estrogen, which is the hormone that stimulates the production of cervical mucus. That’s why ovulation can be recognized by an increase in cervical mucus. However, more than just the quantity of the cervical mucus changes at the time of ovulation.
In addition to increases in cervical mucus, ovulation changes the actual qualities of the mucus. Cervical mucus at the time of ovulation is often referred to as “egg-white” because of its resemblance to egg whites. You’ll notice that this egg-white cervical mucus is both clear, and stretchy as compared to mucus during other times of the month.
Why is egg-white cervical mucus important?
If you’re trying to get pregnant, this mucus is actually working in your favor. Ideally, you’ll notice thick, clear, sticky, and stretchy mucus which helps sperm travel quickly and safely to its final destination (the egg). It can be difficult to notice subtle changes in your mucus. However, if you notice that there is less cervical mucus of this consistency, it may indicate changes related to diet, stress, hormones, or the effects of certain prescription medications.
Does egg-white cervical mucus mean I’m pregnant?
Generally, egg-white cervical mucus is used as a good indicator that ovulation is taking place. However, it may also indicate that conception was successful. Many women say that their cervical mucus changes in early pregnancy. While the end of ovulation is usually marked by a decrease in mucus production, successful fertilization might lead your body to continue producing this thicker, stickier mucus. In early pregnancy, estrogen and progesterone levels surge, which may lead to the continued production of this mucus.
Is EWCM normal?
Tracking changes in cervical mucus is not the most accurate way to track ovulation. Unrelated factors such as exercising, sexual arousal, changes in your diet, everyday stress, recent surgery, or new medications can impact your production of cervical mucus. Rest assured that many women have egg-white cervical mucus, and it’s completely normal.