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Cervical mucus (vaginal discharge) can change color, texture, and amount during your menstrual cycle and early stages of pregnancy. But these changes can be subtle and vary from person to person.
Read on to learn about cervical mucus changes and whether it’s a reliable method of detecting early pregnancy.
During early pregnancy, changes in cervical mucus can be subtle. There is usually an increase in the amount of cervical discharge. However, the change may be so slight that it may be barely noticeable.
Early on in a pregnancy, you may feel more wetness in your underwear than usual. You may also notice a larger amount of dry whitish-yellow discharge on your underwear at the end of the day or overnight.
Cervical mucus, also called leukorrhea, is a normal part of a woman’s cycle. It helps keep the vaginal tissues healthy by protecting them against irritation and infection, and it also keeps the vagina lubricated.
During your menstrual cycle, you may notice that your cervical mucus changes. One day it may be white and sticky, for example, and the next day it may be clear and watery.
When you get pregnant, your body’s hormone levels will begin to rise dramatically. These hormonal changes help prepare your body to grow, and they also help protect and nourish the baby.
The changes to your hormones can lead to an increase in vaginal discharge as your pregnancy progresses. This happens naturally, as your body works to prevent vaginal infections, especially during more advanced stages of pregnancy.
Healthy cervical mucus is thin, white or clear, and has a mild odor. While cervical mucus changes throughout your cycle, and also during pregnancy, it should continue to have these qualities.
The following characteristics of discharge are not typical:
- smells foul
- is bright yellow, green, or gray
- causes itching, swell, burning, or irritation
Cervical discharge with any of these traits could be a sign of an infection. It’s important to see your doctor if you notice any of these changes or symptoms.
A slight increase in cervical mucus is just one of many early signs of pregnancy. Because it’s so subtle, it’s often overlooked. Other common, more noticeable early signs of pregnancy include:
- a missed period; however, several other conditions, including stress, extreme exercise, eating disorders, hormone imbalance, and other health issues may cause you to miss a period
- food cravings and increased hunger, as well as avoidance of certain foods
- frequent urination caused by the pregnancy hormone chorionic gonadotropin, which triggers frequent urination
- fatigue, caused by an increase in the hormone progesterone
- light spotting called “implantation bleeding,” which may occur 6 to 12 days after conception, not lasting more than 24 to 48 hours
- nausea, often in the morning (morning sickness)
- breast changes that typically include tender, sore, swollen breasts
- metallic taste in the mouth
- headaches and dizziness
Most women’s bodies produce a very specific kind of mucus right before ovulation. If you carefully track your discharge, it may be possible to track the days when you are most fertile.
When your cervical mucus is clear and slippery, you’re probably about to ovulate. This is the time when you’re most likely to get pregnant. You’re less likely to get pregnant when you notice cloudy and sticky mucus, or when you feel dry.
Recording the characteristics of your cervical mucus throughout the month may reveal patterns in your ovulation, helping you determine when you’re most fertile.
While it’s possible to track your fertility by focusing on your cervical mucus throughout the month, it may be challenging to rely on this method to determine when you’re at your most fertile.
That’s why experts usually recommend using a more accurate method of fertility tracking, such as fertility monitoring. There are different types of ovulation tests and fertility monitoring kits you can buy. Some involve taking urine tests to check for hormonal spikes that occur during ovulation.
With other kits, you need to take your temperature in order to check where you are in your menstruation cycle. Your body temperature usually drops a little before you ovulate, and then goes up and stays a little higher for a few days.
You may notice slight changes in your cervical mucus during early pregnancy. However, it’s not the most reliable way to determine whether or not you are pregnant. Taking a pregnancy test at home or at your doctor’s office is a much more reliable method.
While changes in cervical mucus may not help you know whether or not you are pregnant, paying attention to your cervical mucus throughout your cycle can help you keep an eye on your reproductive health.
Consult your doctor if you have questions about your fertility or getting pregnant.