Written By: Dr. Kelsey Duncan, ND
Today we’re talking discharge – my husband’s favourite topic (*giggle*).
Vaginal discharge is an important indicator for health. It also gives us the green light when it comes to ovulation.
Throughout your cycle your hormones fluctuate. In the first half, your estrogen is more dominant. The rise of estrogen after your period signals to your body to pick and mature a follicle for ovulation. It’s sudden decline then triggers an LH surge to tell that now mature follicle to ovulate.
This rise in estrogen is doing something else for you though – it tells your cervix to produce what we call “fertile mucus”.
Fertile mucus, cervical mucus, or egg white mucus are all the same thing. I’m going to carry on with the acronym EWCM – egg white cervical mucus. This is your body’s MAIN cue that it’s preparing for ovulation and is basically open for business.
EWCM has a raw egg consistency. It should be clear, with maybe some white streaks. It should be really slippery. And it should be stretchy. Some women notice the discharge actually exiting their body when using the washroom, some only notice it on the tissue when wiping, and some don’t really see much but they may feel a vaginal sensation of lubricative and slippery.
When estrogen starts to reach its peak it sends the signal down to your cervix to prepare for sperm – regardless if you’re trying to get pregnant or not. It’s this EWCM that prepares the vagina to receive sperm and give it a fighting chance to make it up to the fallopian tube for fertilization. This will start to happen BEFORE you ovulate. This is what makes tracking and looking for EWCM so important when it comes to TTC.
The vagina is very acidic, while sperm is very basic. It’s a protective mechanism, really, that sperm cannot survive in the vagina unless conditions are optimal. EWCM gives the vagina a more basic environment so that the sperm can survive for up to 3-5 days. It also gives the sperm a helping hand in getting to where it needs to go by essentially building a sperm highway up into the uterus.
This EWCM may only last for 1-2 days. It may last a whole week. The length of time it’s present doesn’t matter as much as actually having it in the first place. If you aren’t someone who sees or feels this discharge each month, then the first step will be to educate yourself on what you’re looking for and the techniques you can use to actually confirm if you’re producing it. The second step once you’re really sure it’s not there is to have a full hormone assessment and fertility work up done. Not seeing EWCM may be a sign that you aren’t actually ovulating. Or that your estrogen is not reaching a peak level to allow for proper egg maturation or proper thickening of the uterine lining.
This is when some testing may be warranted. The first step is to start tracking your cycle. Second would be to have a full fertility workup done to determine why you aren’t getting EWCM. Specifically we want to see your Day 3 Estradiol.
It’s also important to make sure you are properly hydrated. Drinking 2-3L of water per day can improve the quality and quantity of your EWCM.
Making sure you’re getting enough protein and healthy fats in your diet will also make sure your body has the building blocks to make cervical fluid.
Wondering if this may be a red flag on your fertility journey?
Schedule a free 15-minute insight session with one of our Cared For Naturopathic Doctors to get started.
Ps. If your vaginal discharge is ever green, grey, frothy, fishy smelling, burning, or has the appearance of cottage cheese please contact your family doctor to have a proper assessment.