You’ve probably gotten pretty familiar with how your body changes during each menstrual cycle. But what about early pregnancy cervical mucus? The change is subtle but it may be a telling sign you’re pregnant.
If you’ve been trying to conceive (TTC) or using fertility awareness as part of your family planning, chances are you’ve been paying close attention to your cervical mucus already.
With good reason.
Cervical mucus is not just any vaginal discharge, it’s the key to conception.
This gel-like fluid produced by glands near your cervix is what helps sperm get to where it needs to go – safe, sound, and strong.
And if that’s not enough, how cervical mucus changes throughout your menstruation cycle can indicate the start of a period, the start of ovulation, or an entirely new beginning!
Ready to learn how to detect the different stages of cervical mucus?
It’s all a matter of consistency.
Let’s find out more.
In this article: 📝
- What is cervical mucus?
- What does cervical mucus do?
- Can cervical mucus detect early pregnancy?
- The stages of cervical mucus
- What does cervical mucus look like after ovulation if you’re not pregnant?
- What does cervical mucus look like after ovulation if you are pregnant?
- What does cervical mucus look like before a positive pregnancy test?
- Why does cervical mucus change in early pregnancy?
- Other signs of early pregnancy
- What can cause changes to my cervical mucus?
- How to check your cervical mucus
What is cervical mucus?
Pregnancy discharge, ovulation discharge, even the discharge before your period, cervical mucus is at the root of it all.
Yep, cervical mucus is present at every stage of your cycle and keeps on going throughout your pregnancy even forming the protective mucus plug.
It’s just the consistency that differs.
What does cervical mucus do?
Before we tackle how cervical mucus changes, it’s helpful to know what its role is.
If you are already familiar with the cervical mucus method, you know it’s a natural indicator ovulation is beginning.
But cervical mucus is also responsible for helping sperm move through the cervix.
And while this fluid is all about giving the green light and easing pathways, cervical mucus also works to prevent sperm from getting into the cervix (alongside other substances).
Yep, too little cervical mucus and your partner’s sperm cells are going nowhere fast.
Making the cervical mucus method a very natural type of family planning according to the Mayo Clinic.
Can cervical mucus detect early pregnancy?
Just like the consistency and color of the discharge can help you detect if you’re about to ovulate, cervical mucus can provide a pretty solid clue that you’ve recently conceived – even before you’ve missed a period.
This early pregnancy cervical mucus is called leukorrhea and it often looks milky white and thin in texture.
(Side note: leukorrhea is actually the term used for cervical mucus whether you’re pregnant or not.)
It may change in color and consistency to become stickier, more white, or even yellow.
Yep, as weird as it may be, yellow discharge can happen!
The changes are subtle, but if you notice an increase of wetness in your underwear, there is every chance you may just be pregnant.
Of course, the best way to make sure is to take a [home pregnancy test].
The stages of cervical mucus
Depending on where you’re at in your menstrual cycle, your cervical mucus can change from sticky discharge to clear and watery.
And, let’s not forget the egg white discharge in between.
It’s totally natural for your cervical mucus to change throughout your menstrual cycle.
If you’re trying to get to know your cycle better, you might find it helpful to track these changes.
There are several stages you can look out for:
- Right after your period. You might have less discharge, and what is there can be thick and opaque. Or you may even experience some completely dry days.
- Before ovulation. In the next few days before ovulation begins, the mucus can become sticky and yellowish.
- In your fertile window. In the days leading up to ovulation, the volume of discharge can increase and it can become creamy in texture.
- Ovulation. Around the time that you ovulate, there can be a lot of stretchy and egg-white-like mucus. This can indicate that you’re at your most fertile, so keeping an eye out for it may help with TTC.
- After ovulation. At this stage, the way your mucus looks depends on whether or not you’ve conceived that cycle.
What does cervical mucus look like after ovulation if you’re not pregnant?
If you’re not pregnant, after ovulation your cervical mucus can be drier, more opaque, and thicker in consistency.
And the mucus may remain thicker until your next period starts.
What does cervical mucus look like after ovulation if you are pregnant?
If you’re in early pregnancy, the volume of cervical mucus can sometimes increase.
It’s also possible that the discharge can be slightly tinged pink with blood.
This could be spotting from implantation, which happens about 8–10 days after ovulation.
But not everyone has implantation discharge or bleeding, and sometimes it’s tricky to tell if your mucus has changed.
What does cervical mucus look like before a positive pregnancy test?
Typically, cervical mucus tends to look like milky white discharge before a positive test which may be accompanied by light spotting.
You may also notice more vaginal discharge around the time of a missed period as estrogen increases.
Even creamy or gummy cervical mucus is a positive sign you are in early pregnancy.
We checked in with our Peanut community to find out more:
- “I found out I was pregnant yesterday and my cervical mucus was thick. This morning my cervical mucus is a bit egg white like I’m about to ovulate. I do wonder if it’s normal.” ‒ Sarah
- “It’s so weird, mine keeps going from watery to sticky back to watery for a couple of days then to egg white back to watery. Now it’s creamy. It’s hard to tell between before period and early pregnancy” ‒ Winter
- “I had some extra cervical mucus fairly similar to sticky egg-white and I WAS pregnant!” - Rebecca
- “I’ve had white discharge the whole way through and I’m 29 weeks now. Nothing to worry about, it happens to prevent you getting an infection.”- Lucy
- “I’ve heard heavy amounts of wet cervical mucus could be a sign of early pregnancy but honestly I’ve read about some women being dry before they got a positive pregnancy test and some have been very wet.” - Sarah
It’s clear from the conversations shared in our community, that cervical mucus for every woman is different.
But it doesn’t mean figuring it out alone.
Why does cervical mucus change in early pregnancy?
Bacially, it’s all about the hormones.
The pregnancy hormones estrogen, progesterone, and hCG (human chorionic gonadotropin) start working hard from early after conception, potentially causing your cervical mucus to change.
But it takes time for the levels of these hormones to build up in your body.
So, as a mama-to-be, you may not see any difference in your mucus or see other signs of early pregnancy until a few weeks after conception.
The most reliable way to check whether you’re pregnant is to do a home pregnancy test once you’ve missed your period.
Other signs of early pregnancy
A slight increase in cervical mucus is a positive sign of early pregnancy but it’s not the only one.
Other signs you can look for are:
- A missed period
- Implantation bleeding
- Breast changes
- Food cravings and aversions
- Morning sickness
What can cause changes to my cervical mucus?
Ovulation and early pregnancy aren’t the only factors that can affect your cervical mucus.
Other activities and conditions can alter your vaginal discharge including:
- Hormonal birth control. If you are on the Pill, you may find your cervical fluid is thicker.
- Using the wrong sexual lubricants. Fertility-friendly lube is best for making TTC enjoyable and successful.
- Early menopause. Noticing vaginal dryness? It could be a drop in estrogen and a sign of perimenopause.
- Vaginal yeast infections. Vaginal itching and thick white discharge that looks like cottage cheese? Time to pay your GP a visit.
- Sexually transmitted infections (STIs). From abnormal discharge colors – think green or yellow – to strong odors, STIs can have a noticeable effect on your cervical mucus. Best to get it checked as soon as possible.
- Using some medications. Antidepressants, antihistamines, and even some sleep aid medication can reduce your cervical mucus.
- Breastfeeding. High levels of the hormone prolactin during lactation can alter the patterns of your cervical mucus meaning less fluid than usual.
- Stress. Your cervical mucus could be one of the best signs that your wellbeing needs added TLC. If you’re experiencing intermittent dry days, stress may be the cause.
How to check your cervical mucus
If you want to check your cervical mucus, the easiest and quickest way is to check your underwear.
You can usually see what the consistency and color is when you do that.
But there’s a way to check more closely, too.
Before you start, give your hands a good wash with soap and water. Then:
- Insert a finger or two into your vagina, reaching up to your cervix.
- Sweep around the cervix to touch the mucus.
- Pull your finger or fingers out and observe how the mucus looks and feels.
If you notice any unusual changes in your cervical mucus during your cycle, and you don’t think they’re related to pregnancy, you can always seek advice from your healthcare provider.
And if there’s no change at all in your mucus, even when you’re TTC, that doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re not pregnant.
The best way to find out is by doing a pregnancy test.
Need a little reassurance? The mamas on Peanut are having the conversation.
Feel free to join in!
You’re not alone. 👭