Cervical mucus is a discharge of fluid from the cervix—the opening of the uterus—and menstruation is a regular monthly discharge of blood. Cervical mucus and menstruation are connected as elements of a woman's monthly menstrual cycle. Cervical mucus or fluid changes in color, texture, and quantity as the woman moves through the different phases of the menstrual cycle. Scant, sticky discharge often marks the infertile periods, like the days directly following menstrual bleeding. Mucus generally becomes plentiful, stretchy, or slippery as the woman approaches ovulation. Once the fertile period has passed, cervical mucus begins to dry up again, and the woman begins her monthly period.
Cervical mucus and menstruation are only two aspects of a woman's monthly cycle. The typical cycle also includes changes in the cervix as well as changes in bodily temperature. When a woman is early in her cycle, the cervix is low in the vagina, slightly hard, and open just enough to allow the flow of menstrual blood. Once the bleeding has stopped, the cervix closes and continues to be low and hard. As the woman approaches ovulation, the cervix rises, softens, and opens. Additionally, a woman who takes her body temperature each day might notice a very slight temperature increase in the days immediately following ovulation.
Many women choose to observe changes in cervical mucus and menstruation, and record them in a weekly or monthly chart. Charting fertility in this manner can help a woman predict ovulation or the date her period will begin. It can also help a couple achieve or avoid pregnancy. By recording her body temperature and comparing it to both cervical mucus and cervical position, a woman can become more familiar with her monthly cycle. A woman can chart her cycle with a regular pen and paper, or through one of the various fertility software programs available for purchase or download.
Cervical mucus and menstruation charting can also be supplemented with the use of a fertility monitor. There are many different types of ovulation predictors, including simple drugstore tests, hand held microscopes, and computerized systems. These different kits measure physical elements of saliva or urine in order to predict ovulation. A woman who utilizes a monitor in conjunction with traditional charting methods can combine her test results with changes in her cervix and fluids to determine where she is in her monthly menstrual cycle. By using these methods, she can better understand her body as well as the connection between her cervical mucus and menstruation.