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What Is Egg White Cervical Mucus (EWCM)?
If you notice vaginal discharge that is similar in color and consistency to raw egg whites, you are likely about to ovulate. Egg white cervical mucus is the most fertile kind of cervical mucus, and it is frequently abbreviated as EWCM on fertility charts and forums for those trying to conceive.
While cervical mucus changes throughout the menstrual cycle, EWCM is the most fertile and signals the best time to have sex for pregnancy. This stage of mucus is the ideal viscosity and pH for sperm.
Some consider vaginal discharge a nuisance or a hygiene problem. But if you are trying to conceive, when you see egg white discharge, it’s time to have sex. Or, as they say on the fertility forums, BD! (BD stands for the horizontal baby dance.)
The Role of Egg White Cervical Mucus
Egg white cervical mucus provides the ideal environment for sperm. It helps the sperm swim up from the vaginal canal and cervix into the uterus.
Egg white discharge also helps the sperm survive the usually more acidic environment of the vagina. If you don’t have fertile quality cervical mucus, the sperm cannot swim or survive as well. This may lead to trouble getting pregnant.
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When Does Egg White Discharge Occur?
Vaginal discharge isn’t always friendly to sperm. Starting after your period, your cervical mucus transitions from a sticky consistency to a more creamy, then watery, and finally, raw egg white-like consistency. Once ovulation passes, cervical mucus dries up and return to a more sticky consistency.
Usually, you get fertile egg white discharge for one or two days before you ovulate. These are your most fertile days, and if you want to conceive, have sex when you see it.
It’s also possible to have EWCM for up to five days before ovulation. Or, you might get it for only one day. But two or three days is more typical.
What Triggers Egg White Cervical Mucus?
The hormones that trigger the ovaries to release an egg during ovulation also trigger other changes in your body. These include more fertile vaginal discharge and changes in the cervix, your body temperature, and your mood.
For example, just before ovulation, your cervix moves up higher, becomes softer, and more open. Also, when you’re most fertile, your desire for sex also increases. This is nature’s way of getting you to have intercourse at the right time to conceive.
Estrogen is the hormone primarily responsible for egg white discharge. If your estrogen levels are low, you won’t get as much (or any) fertile quality cervical mucus. This may occur as a side effect of medication (like Clomid). It also can occur because of age, birth-control pills, or a hormonal imbalance.
How to Check for EWCM
Research shows that tracking cervical mucus changes can help you time sex for pregnancy.1 It may be even more helpful than tracking your basal body temperature.
If you chart your basal body temperature, you can see when you ovulated. In other words, you find out when you were most fertile after the time has passed. But with cervical mucus, you can see when you’re about to ovulate. That’s the ideal time for sex.
You can check for EWCM by noticing the discharge left on your underwear or by inserting a clean finger into your vagina. You may also try looking at your toilet paper after urination.
It’s best not to check just before or after sex. Sexual arousal will change your vaginal discharge. Plus, it’s easy to confuse semen with watery cervical mucus.
There is a very specific method of cervical mucus tracking known as the Billings Method, also known as the Billings ovulation method or the ovulation method. You don’t need to study or learn this technique to track cervical mucus, but it helps to know what it is if someone mentions it.
Egg white cervical mucus will stretch a few inches between your fingers and appear to be somewhat clear and mucus-like. Non-fertile cervical mucus doesn’t stretch much or at all. It may seem crumbly or sticky.
Some also track cervical mucus to detect early pregnancy, but this isn’t very reliable. While your vaginal discharge will eventually change during pregnancy, those changes aren’t noticeable until much later.
If you’re looking to conceive, tracking ovulation improves your odds of getting pregnant.
Some women find it difficult to track their menstrual cycle. Yet, monitoring your discharge can provide clues about your most fertile days. In most cases, your discharge will become egg white in appearance about 2 to 3 days before ovulation.
You might be able to detect ovulation by simply observing the consistency of your cervical mucus. If you can’t tell by looking at it, you can touch the discharge to test its consistency.
To test your cervical mucus:
After washing your hands, gently place one finger inside of your vagina and gently remove a sample. Or, use toilet paper to retrieve a sample — wiping from front to back. Sometimes you’ll also find mucus on your underwear.
- Thin mucus may just leave a damp spot.
- Egg white mucus will look clear to milky and feel stretchy.
- Thick mucus may look and feel clumpy or spongy.
When cervical mucus is thin and stretchy, you’re most likely ovulating. Understand that being sexually aroused could dilute your cervical mucus, so don’t try to check consistency before or after intercourse.
Along with checking for egg white cervical mucus, other factors can help track ovulation, too. One of the easiest ways is to track your menstrual cycle, which will be easier if you have regular periods.
If your period comes like clockwork every four weeks or 28 days, you’re likely ovulating on day 14 of your cycle. So you may notice egg white cervical mucus between days 11 and 15 of your cycle.
If you don’t want to manually track your cycle, you can also use an ovulation predictor kit. You’ll urinate on a test stick (the same way you urinate on a pregnancy test). These kits are designed to detect the luteinizing hormone which your body releases 24 to 48 hours before ovulation.
You can also use these test kits if you have an irregular period. Just know that you’ll have to test more frequently throughout the month to narrow down your most fertile days.
You can also track ovulation by monitoring your basal body temperature. Body temperature increases by a few degrees right before ovulation.
Keep in mind that some medications and conditions can affect the quality of your cervical mucus. So even if you’re ovulating each month, producing too little mucus can make it difficult to conceive.
Medications that can decrease your amount of cervical mucus include:
- cold medications
- sinus medications
- sleep aids
- some antidepressants
You can also experience less cervical mucus due to age or hormonal imbalances…