It has been brought to my attention several times that not all women’s cervical fluid matches the usual descriptions of sticky, creamy, egg white, or watery. This means some women are having a hard time charting their fertility, because they don’t know how to categorize their cervical fluid for their chart.
So today I’ll give you a very detailed description of the different types of cervical fluid, and how to classify them.
I’m going to be incorporating vaginal sensation into the mix here. Vaginal sensation is the way your vagina *feels* when different types of cervical fluid are present. You know how you can tell if the inside of your nose is wet, like when you have a runny nose? And you know how you can tell if the inside of your nose feels dry, like when you are in a dusty desert? You can tell the same things about your vagina as well, if you pay attention. The way your vagina feels can give you a lot of insight on the state of your fertility and what kind of cervical fluid you’re likely to find.
One thing to keep in mind when it comes to cervical fluid is that there is a baseline level of moisture that will always be present in the vagina. After all, it’s a mucus membrane, like your mouth. If you touched the inside of your cheek, it would be damp — same thing with the vagina. Don’t let that normal vaginal moisture confuse you. Unless there is a physical substance on your fingers or toilet paper, it doesn’t count as cervical fluid. (The exception here is watery cervical fluid: sometimes the water content is so high that there is nothing that will hold together, and it’s just plain wet. But in those cases there is usually so much of it that there is no question about whether or not it’s cervical fluid.)
Cervical fluid is measured above that baseline level of moisture. It tends to start out on the drier end of the spectrum, and it increases in water content as a woman approaches ovulation. Generally, the higher the water content, the more fertile the cervical fluid. After ovulation the water content will decrease. Note: all cervical fluid is potentially fertile. If you are charting to avoid pregnancy, any cervical fluid you notice before ovulation means that your fertile window has begun. But for women who are trying to achieve pregnancy, there are definitely types of cervical fluid that are more optimal for getting pregnant. So, shall we launch our boat onto the sea of cervical fluid exploration? Lets!
These are the different categories of cervical fluid:
- What it feels like (vaginal sensation): dry or maybe even a little tacky, like when you fall asleep with your mouth open.
- What it looks like: nothing!
- What it feels like on your fingers: a slight dampness, maybe a slight dampness on your fingers that quickly evaporates (which means it’s that baseline moisture we talked about).
- What it looks like on your underwear: nothing. Squeaky clean. You could wear those underpants again tomorrow if you wanted.
Sticky has the least amount of water content.
- What it feels like (vaginal sensation): dry, sticky, tacky, or like nothing’s going on.
- What it looks like: whitish or yellowish, tiny bits of clear gummy bears, dried rubber cement, grade school paste, clumpy, pasty, crumbled cheese.
- What it feels like on your fingers: springy, sticky, crumbly, dry, pasty, tacky, gummy.
- What it looks like on your underpants: white or yellowish lines or areas that tend to sit on the top of the fabric rather than soaking in. When it dries it forms a crust that can be difficult to wash out on laundry day.
Think of creamy as transitional from sticky to eggwhite. It has more water content than sticky but less than egg white.
- What it feels like (vaginal sensation): cool, slightly damp, or may not feel like anything.
- What it looks like: milky or cloudy, like hand lotion or moisturizer, yogurt, whole milk, whipped cream, or heavy cream.
- What it feels like on your fingers: smooth, creamy.
- What it looks like on your underpants: white or yellowish lines or areas that tend to sit on the top of the fabric, as opposed to soaking in. When it dries it forms a crust that can be hard to wash out on laundry day.
Egg white has the second highest water content of the different types and is considered very fertile (1)
- What it feels like (vaginal sensation): slippery, lubricative, wet.
- What it looks like: raw egg whites, wet rubber cement, can be clear or cloudy, stretchy.
- What it feels like on your fingers: slippery, lubricative, viscous, or stretches an inch or more between thumb and forefinger.
- What it looks like on your underpants: slippery, wet, may sit on top of the fabric or soak in slightly.
Watery CM has the highest water content and is most fertile.
- What it feels like (vaginal sensation): water rushing, dripping, or gushing out of your vagina; cold, wet sensation.
- What it looks like: clear or milky/clear, about the consistency of water or skim milk.
- What it feels like on your fingers: wet, slippery; if you wave your hand around and it doesn’t dry, that’s how you know it’s CM rather than vaginal moisture.
- What it looks like on your underpants: leaves round wet patches that soak into your underpants.
Sometimes CM is not obvious, especially since you can have more than one type on the same day (3), but we hope these descriptions help you identify it. Here are a few other things to keep in mind:
- Not everyone will observe all types of CM, and that’s ok!
- Try all the methods above to identify your CM: look at it, rub it between your finger tips, touch your underwear. You may find that one method works better for you, and that could change each day depending on what’s going on with your body.
- Practice and consistency are key to understanding your own patterns. Keep at it!
- Weschler, Toni. (2015). Taking Charge of Your Fertility: The definitive Guide to Natural Birth Control, Pregnancy Achievement, and Reproductive Health.