To use the cervical mucus method:
- Record your cervical secretions for several cycles. Starting the day after your menstrual bleeding stops, observe and record your cervical secretions on a daily chart. To avoid confusing cervical secretions with semen or normal sexual lubrication, avoid sex or use a barrier method of contraception during your first cycle. Also avoid douching, which can wash out cervical secretions and make it difficult to notice changes.
- Check your cervical secretions before and after urinating. Wipe — front to back — with toilet tissue. Record the color (yellow, white, clear or cloudy), consistency (thick, sticky or stretchy) and feel (dry, wet or slippery) of your secretions. Also note sensations of dryness, moistness or wetness in your vulva.
Plan sex carefully during fertile days. You're most fertile when your cervical secretions are abundant, clear, stretchy, wet and slippery — much like a raw egg white. If you're hoping to get pregnant, this is the time to have sex. Ovulation most likely occurs during or one day after your last day of this type of cervical secretion — known as your peak day.
If you're hoping to avoid pregnancy, unprotected sex is off-limits from the day your cervical secretions begin until four days after your peak day. If you have sex before your cervical secretions begin, you may want to avoid sex the next day and night so that you don't confuse semen and arousal fluids with cervical secretions.
Some health care providers also recommend avoiding unprotected sex or using a barrier method of contraception during your period because it's difficult to detect cervical secretions when they're mixed with menstrual blood.
Interpreting and charting cervical secretions can be challenging. Most women need more than one instructional session to recognize the pattern of secretions in a typical menstrual cycle. Consult your health care provider with any questions or concerns.
Oct. 31, 2014
- Hatcher RA, et al. Contraceptive Technology. 20th ed. New York, N.Y.: Ardent Media; 2011:417.
- Jennings V. Fertility awareness-based methods of pregnancy prevention. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed Aug. 19, 2014.
- Fehring RJ, et al. Randomized comparison of two Internet-supported fertility-awareness-based methods of family planning. Contraception. 2013;88:24.
- Pfenninger JL, et al., eds. Pfenninger and Fowler's Procedures for Primary Care. 3rd ed. Philadelphia, Pa.: Mosby Elsevier; 2011. http://www.clinicalkey.com. Accessed Aug. 19, 2014.