An individual may notice more cervical mucus, or cervical fluid, than normal a few weeks after they ovulate. A different consistency can also be found in the mucus. This is often a sign of pregnancy.
We explain how cervical fluid will change if a person is pregnant in this article, other potential causes of these changes, and other early signs of pregnancy.
How it looks in early pregnancy
A fluid that comes from the cervix is cervical mucus. It is one of the main vaginal discharge ingredients, usually clear or white, and may have a slight odor.
There may be noticeably more of this mucus than normal in early pregnancy. It can have a runny, watery consistency as well.
The cervical fluid may have a pink tinge if a person experiences bleeding from the implantation. Implantation bleeding occurs 8–10 days after ovulation, when a fertilized egg attaches to the lining of the womb.
Not everyone experiences implantation bleeding, however, and certain women who are pregnant do not have distinct cervical fluid noticeably.
Often over the course of a menstrual cycle, it is common for cervical fluid to vary in volume and consistency. The changes vary from individual to individual, but basically, they are as follows:
- after menstruation, cervical fluid is often thick, opaque, and less abundant
- approaching ovulation, the fluid may temporarily become clear and elastic, similar in consistency to uncooked egg whites
- after ovulation, the fluid again becomes opaque and thick
Finally, it is important to remember that the consistency of cervical mucus can be changed by other factors. These are listed later in this article.
How long does it take to change?
The early signs of pregnancy are caused by hormones such as estrogen, progesterone, and human chorionic gonadotropin, also called HCG. These hormones take several weeks after implantation to build up in the body.
As a result, up to several weeks after conception, a pregnant person can not see any changes in their cervical fluid or have any other symptoms of pregnancy.
If a person immediately after ovulation discovers a difference in their cervical fluid, the cause may be anything other than pregnancy. And this does not necessarily mean that the person is not pregnant if there is no improvement.
Using a home monitoring kit after the next missed period is the easiest way to check for pregnancy.
How to check cervical mucus
Anyone who wants to check their cervical mucus should:
- Wash their hands thoroughly with soap and water.
- Insert a finger or two into the vagina, reaching up to the cervix.
- Sweep around the cervix to touch the fluid.
- Pull the finger or fingers out and observe the fluid.
Instead an individual might be able to check their underwear for any cervical mucus or wipe on a tissue.
Abundant, elastic cervical mucus can be an indication of when a person is most fertile. Anyone trying to conceive can find that regularly testing the fluid helps to recognize their fertile window.
What else can change cervical mucus?
Besides pregnancy, other variables can influence what the cervical fluid looks like. Certain common explanations for cervical mucus changes include:
When the semen mixes with the vaginal fluids, the texture of the cervical mucus can change temporarily. The mucus can become cloudy or white or more abundant in appearance. This can be mistaken by others for a sign of pregnancy.
Lubricants and other products
Any product used by an individual in, on, or around the vagina can change or imitate the color or consistency of cervical fluid.
For example, some lubricants look similar to cervical fluid, and a person may erroneously assume that they produce more than normal.
The menstrual cycle
A person can produce up to 30 times more cervical fluid around ovulation than earlier in their cycle. They can interpret this as a sign of pregnancy if a person ovulates later than normal.
Keeping track of ovulation can help to understand cervical fluid changes.
Some infections, including yeast infections and bacterial vaginosis, may cause alterations in vaginal discharge. Contact a doctor if there is a vaginal discharge:
- thick and white, with a similar texture to cottage cheese
- bright yellow or green
When pregnancy is a possibility, it is particularly important to get treatment, as certain vaginal infections can pose a risk to pregnant people and fetuses.
Other signs of pregnancy
A positive test result after a missed period is the most accurate predictor of pregnancy.
Some other potential signs include:
- aversions to certain foods or smells
- food cravings
- nausea or vomiting
- breast pain or tenderness
- feeling tired
- mood changes
- needing to urinate more often
It is necessary to bear in mind that these symptoms can be triggered by many other health conditions.
As several factors may cause a delay in menstruation, a missed period alone is not enough to determine pregnancy. Using a home pregnancy testing kit or call a doctor for a blood test for the most accurate result.
When to consult a doctor
A person should speak with a doctor if they:
- have discharge that is thick and cloudy, like cottage cheese
- have discharge that is yellow, gray, or green
- have discharge with a foul odor
- experience itching, burning, or odor coming from the vagina
- experience pain during sexual intercourse or urination
Also an individual should speak with a physician if they could be pregnant or have been trying to become pregnant for over a year but have not yet conceived.
Cervical fluid can appear thinner or more watery during early pregnancy. The fluid can contain a little blood if a person experiences implantation bleeding.
Other causes, however, along with the other early signs of pregnancy, may also induce these changes.
Tracking shifts in cervical mucus is not a reliable way to detect pregnancy. Anyone who wants to check whether they are pregnant should use a home testing kit or have a doctor arrange a blood test.