Easy Way to Conceive? Monitor Cervical Mucus Levels

First Posted: Jul 24, 2013 12:20 PM EDT

Some women trying to conceive may be missing out on a simple, easy step to help them know which days will be their most fertile.

Women who use this technique, known as cervical mucus monitoring, were more than twice as likely to conceive than those who did not track their cervical mucus, according to a recent study

"This technique can be used to help people get pregnant faster," said Dr. Anne Steiner, an ob-gyn at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and senior author of the paper, via Live Science. "It's exciting to potentially say this is a real way to help people; it's so cheap and easy."

Planned Parenthood notes that women can track their cervical mucus by collecting samples on the cervix and the vagina. The amount of mucus changes in quality and quantity just before and during ovulation. With personal instruction, many women are actually able to learn to recognize the changes following the bullets noted below regarding their fertility pattern:

  • During your period, your flow covers the mucus signs.
  • After your period, there are usually a few days without mucus. These are called "dry days." These may be safe days if the cycle is long.
  • When an egg starts to ripen, more mucus is produced. It appears at the opening of the vagina. It is generally yellow or white and cloudy. And it feels sticky or tacky.
  • Usually, you will have the most mucus just before ovulation. It looks clear and feels slippery - like raw egg white. When it can be stretched between the fingers, it is called spinnbarkeit- German for stretchable. These are the "slippery days." It is the peak of your fertility.
  • After about four slippery days, you may suddenly have less mucus. It will become cloudy and tacky again. And then you may have a few more dry days before your period starts. These are also safe days.

(NOTE: Since the women in the study are trying to conceive, they would want to have more sex on the slippery days mentioned in the bullets above.)

The study looked at 331 women ages 20 to 45 with no known fertility problems who had been trying to conceive for three months or less. Women were then asked to categorize their cervical discharge  as one of four types, including type 1, dry or nonexistent; type 2, damp; type 3, thick and white or yellowish; and type 4, transparent and slippery.

Women who had intercourse on a slippery day were up to two to three times more likely to become pregnant if they had intercourse, according to previous studies, as opposed to the other types.

The study also showed that the women who consistently checked their cervical mucus were 2.3 times more likely to get pregnant over a six-month period.

However, the study notes that some women had trouble monitoring their mucus levels and gave up all together. In fact, study results showed that only 6 percent checked it consistently, whereas 54 percent of the women didn't bother to check their cervical mucus at all.

Doctors show concern regarding the study as they many may be uncertain of how to properly track using this method and give up on it. And ovulation kits can be expensive at $20 to $40 per month.

What do you think?

More information regarding the study can be found in the journal Fertility and Sterility

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