Ovulation discharge is another name for the cervical mucus that your body produces around the time you ovulate (release an egg).
Basically, it provides sperm with something to swim in as they head toward your uterus and fallopian tubes in search of an egg to fertilize.
That’s why, if you’re trying to conceive (TTC), being able to identify your ovulation discharge is super useful.
When you see it, you’ll know that it’s the ideal time for baby-making.
Let’s find out more.
What is ovulation discharge?
First, a quick biology lesson.
Toward the beginning of your menstrual cycle, your estrogen levels start to rise as your period ends. (Estrogen is the hormone sent out by one of your ovaries as it gets ready to release an egg.)
The estrogen tells the glands in your cervix to start producing mucus in preparation for any sperm that come to town.
And for a week or so, as your estrogen levels get higher, this mucus changes in consistency and color.
Here are the main mucus phases (each might be several days long – every woman is different):
- No mucus: The first few days after your period, your vagina normally feels fairly dry.
- Sticky or gummy: The earliest phase of cervical mucus. It’s a white or yellow color. Your vagina still feels dryish.
- Creamy: The mucus starts to feel wet and cool like lotion. It’s still white or yellow, usually. Your vagina starts to feel much wetter.
And that brings us to the final phase:
- Slippery and stretchy: Ovulation discharge!
Let’s take a closer look.
What does ovulation discharge look like?
Ovulation discharge looks (rather appropriately) quite like raw egg white.
It’s often clear, slippery, and stretchy.
You may be able to stretch it for a few inches between your fingers!
Along with the egg-white type mucus, your vagina will feel extremely wet.
You might feel gushing sensations as you go about your day.
How long does ovulation discharge last?
It varies from woman to woman.
You might see it for a few days, or just one or two.
As you get older, you might find that you have fewer days of this most fertile type of mucus.
But don’t worry: you can still get pregnant if you only have the “creamy” type.
It’s not quite as effective for sperm transportation, but it can still get the job done.
Essentially, the days of your cycle when you have creamy cervical fluid or stretchy ovulation discharge are known, collectively, as your “fertile window.”
If you have sex during that time, the sperm should hang around in the mucus, ready to fertilize the egg when it comes.
The last day of the wettest or most egg-white-like mucus you have is your “peak day.”
That’s usually the day before (or even the day of) ovulation.
Does ovulation discharge mean you’re fertile?
It’s a good sign, but not the whole picture.
If you spot ovulation discharge, your body is likely getting ready to release an egg.
This mucus is also really great, as we’ve mentioned, at helping sperm get where they need to be.
It nourishes them, makes it easier for them to swim, and helps protect them from the acidic environment in your vagina.
And, did you know that it also filters out the weaker sperm from getting to the egg? Clever.
Sperm that are less motile may often be sperm of lesser quality, or have any abnormalities that affect their motility.
The mucus acts as a barrier for such sperm that cannot swim through, effectively filtering them out.
But, experiencing ovulation discharge doesn’t guarantee you’ll actually ovulate.
Using an ovulation test may help you predict ovulation more accurately.
Or you could try monitoring your basal body temperature (BBT) to look out for the temperature rise that signals ovulation.
What does discharge look like after ovulation?
After ovulation, if the egg isn’t fertilized, your estrogen levels will fall again.
That means cervical mucus after ovulation is, well, pretty non-existent.
You’ll usually go back to feeling dryish before the whole cycle starts again at your next period.
But, if fertilization has occurred, your estrogen levels will stay high, meaning that you might still see some discharge after ovulation (sometimes called leukorrhea).
How to check for ovulation discharge
So, how can you check if you’ve got some cervical mucus magic going on? There are several ways:
- Check your underwear. Super-wet ovulation discharge can leave a neat little circular mark there.
- Check your vagina by inserting two clean fingers, drawing out the mucus, and having a look.
- Check the toilet paper after you’ve peed. You may find some of the mucus there.
And if you want to talk cervical mucus and ovulation tests with other women who are TTC, the Peanut community is ready and waiting.