Yep we're talking about your cervical fluid.
Perhaps you know it as Cervical mucous?
Or maybe "Discharge" rings more of a bell for you...
When I think of the word discharge my body instantly tenses up. Memories of shame and embarrassment flood my body as I remember being a brand new teenager, wondering WTF the white liquid that graced my underwear occasionally was all about.
I actually thought something must be wrong with me because no one had taught me about it, like, at all. In pre-Google times I would look up the family health encyclopaedia we had on the bookshelf in the lounge. I would covertly sneak it to my bedroom and guess at what it could possibly be called, so I could hope to read up on whether it was a problem, or another of those secretive mysteries my body held.
Discharge - or cervical fluid as I have reclaimed it as these days - gets properly and entirely overlooked in the school period talk. No-one bothered to tell me that besides blood, I might notice something else going on down there which was completely normal and natural, necessary and a sign of being fit and healthy. Omitting fluid from the conversation is just NUTS, because understanding what your cervical fluid is, why you have it, how it changes and what that means is essential to understanding your menstrual health and fertility.
Yep that’s right, your discharge is pure liquid gold magick. Nothing to be ashamed about. In fact its something to love. Truly!
Your cervix is a wondrous thing.
So what actually IS cervical fluid then?
The muscular ring of muscle that acts as a gate between your vagina and womb releases fluid that changes across your cycle depending on your hormones. Cervical fluid has the power to besperm-friendly at ovulation to support your fertility, or act as a natural barrier to sperm during the remainder of your cycle. The pattern of changing fluid is quite predictable and is a powerful thing to track.
So let’s break down how fluid changes:
🩸 During your period you won’t notice any as it’s mixed in with your blood
🌸 After your period you may have none and your vagina may feel dry for a few days
💧 Then your fluid will increase but be thick and creamy. This is not peak fertile fluid.
💦 Around ovulation, you’ll notice a LOT of thin, wet, stretchy cervical fluid and you can feel very wet. This is very fertile fluid that helps sperm survive and fast track their race to your egg.
🍂 After ovulation your fluid will dry up again, becoming thicker, drier, perhaps chalky, perhaps stopping altogether before your next period.
Why is it important to understand?
Know thy fluid and you know thyself.
Getting familiar with the pattern of changes gives you all kinds of insights into what's going on under the hood, so you have the power to:
Know if you ovulate or not, which gives you a window into your overall and long-term health. Ovulation is the main event of your cycle and is essential for producing the hormones that boost your long term health. Creating natural forms of oestrogen and progesterone through your menstrual cycle helps you to:
- prevent osteoporosis, and reduce the risk of some cancers,
- support your cardiovascular, brain, breast, thyroid and muscle health,
- reduce insulin sensitivity which protects against diabetes,
- and boost your immune system.
Predict when your period may be due by counting forward 2 weeks from the last you noticed fertile fluid. This is especially awesome if you have an irregular cycle and therefore can't be sure that your period will come approximately at the same time every month.
So instead of knowing your period comes every 28-30 days for example, instead you can look for when you have fertile fluid. If you have wet, followed by dry fluid, then you can guess you may have ovulated, and you can count forward 2 weeks and expect to see a period.
This method is incredibly empowering if you have irregular periods, which is common when:
- you're in your teens and are in the first few years of having a menstrual cycle,
- you've just come off hormonal contraceptives and your body has to practice making your own hormones again,
- if you're postpartum or breastfeeding, because ovulation has been naturally suppressed for some time and has to begin ovulating again,
- if you're peri-menopausal, and the level of oestrogen that your body is making is declining, meaning you might not ovulate every cycle or "on-time" anymore,
- or if you have an underlying health condition such as Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) or have an underachieve thyroid, which impact the production of oestrogen which is needed for your body to ovulate.
Since high levels of oestrogen is needed to create the wet fertile cervical fluid, and for the egg to be released (aka ovulation), its a good sign you're about to ovulate, so your period should come approximately 2 weeks later from this point.
Track your fertility, because when you have peak thin wet stretchy fluid, you're likely to be ovulating and therefore may be fertile. If you're hoping to conceive, this is go-time. It's a TOTAL MYTH that you can get pregnant at any time - actually the egg that's released at ovulation can survive just a matter of hours. However sperm can survive for unto 5 days all nestled and nourished by your peak fertile (wet, thin) cervical fluid. This gives you a potential fertile window of about 5 days max.
Conversely, you can learn to track your fertile signs, cervical fluid being one of them, to practice natural contraception, instead of going onto hormonal contraception.
(If you'd like to learn more about tracking your fertile signs with the aim of conception or natural contraception, you'd be best off finding tuition from a certified FAM (Fertility Awareness Method) Practitioner who can really give you the full depth of information you need to avoid conceiving through this method alone. FAM when done properly is over 99% effective as a contraceptive method! No more horrid synthetic hormones needed! I highly recommend learning from Nat Daudet at The Fertility Awareness Project, who is a fellow Cycle Coach I met through Claire Baker's training we've done together).
Discern whether you do in fact have an infection, because cervical fluid is white or clear, and anything green, yellow, strong smelling, or white and curdled-looking can be a sign of infection, and is time for a visit to the GP, gynaecologist or sexual health clinic.
So tell me: is this news to you? How did you feel about your cervical fluid when you were young? How do you feel about it now?
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