To prevent pregnancy, women can keep track of their menstrual cycles and abstain from unprotected vaginal intercourse during their peak fertile times. The methods you can use to do this are called fertility awareness-based methods(FAMs).
One way that women track their fertility cycles is called the cervical mucus method.
|Some women also pay attention to their cervical mucus when trying to get pregnant to know when they should have unprotected vaginal intercourse.|
Cervical Mucus Method
The hormones that control your cycle also make the cervix produce mucus. It collects on the cervix and in the vagina. And it changes in quality and quantity just before and during ovulation. With personal instruction, many women can learn to recognize these changes. Instruction is usually given one-to-one. This method is also known as the ovulation method or the Billings method.
The Mucus 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.
Charting Your Mucus Pattern
You should mark a calendar every day. Record your period days, the dry days, tacky days, cloudy days, wet days, and slippery days. Your mucus may feel different in between those stages. It may be granular, rubbery, wet, or creamy. Have someone with experience help you learn your own pattern.
You can check your mucus in several ways. Do what is most comfortable for you. Check several times a day. You can
- Wipe the opening of the vagina with tissue before you urinate. Check the color and texture.
- Check the color and texture of the discharge on your underpants.
- Put clean fingers into the vagina and check the color and texture of the mucus on them.
This method isn't the best for women who don't produce much mucus. Women who ovulate on day seven or eight may also have too little mucus.
A woman's mucus pattern may be altered by
- cervical surgery — especially with cryotherapy or electrocautery
- douches or other "feminine hygiene" products
- recent use of hormonal contraceptives, including emergency contraception
- sexually transmitted infections
Safe Days Using the Mucus Method
Do not have unprotected vaginal intercourse on your unsafe days.
- The days of your period are not safe days, especially during short cycles. The flow can cover the mucus signs.
- In a long cycle, the dry days after your period may be safe.
- Days that are not safe begin two or three days before the first sign of slippery mucus. They last for about three days after slippery mucus peaks. Safe days may begin after peak slippery mucus drops off and is cloudy and tacky again. But the dry days that follow are even safer.
It's best to abstain from unprotected vaginal intercourse for at least one whole cycle before you start to use this method for birth control.
The Two-Day Method
The Two-Day Method is a mucus method. It works best for a woman who is sure she can tell whether or not she has secretions. To use the method, she asks herself two questions:
If she can answer "no" to both questions, it is considered a safe day for unprotected intercourse.
Women who use this method may have only 12 safe days in each of their cycles.
Of 100 couples who use the cervical mucus method correctly for one year, 3 will have a pregnancy.
Of 100 couples who use the Two-Day Method correctly for one year, 3–4 will have a pregnancy.
This information is not meant as a substitute for professional advice.