Cervical Mucus Method

1 What is a Cervical Mucus Method for Natural Family Planning?

Also known as the method and the Billings ovulation method, the cervical mucus method is a type of natural family planning also known as fertility awareness-based methods.

This method of family planning is based on careful observation of mucus patterns during the course of your menstrual cycle.

Prior to ovulation, cervical secretions change, creating an environment that facilitates the passing through of sperm through the cervix, uterus and fallopian tubes to the egg.

By recognizing the changing characteristics of your cervical mucus, you can make a prediction of when you will ovulate next.

In turn, this may help you determine when you are most likely to conceive. If you have hopes of getting pregnant, you can apply the mucus method to determine the best days to have sex.

In a similar way, if you are hoping to avoid pregnancy, you can apply the cervical method to know the best days to avoid unprotected sex.

Using the cervical method for birth control requires motivation and diligence.

If you do not want to conceive, you and your partner must avoid having sex or use a barrier method of contraception during your fertile days each month.

2 Reasons for Procedure

The main reason for a cervical mucus method is the identification of fertile time to help you gauge the most suitable days to engage in or avoid unprotected sex.

Tracking your cervical mucus for either the purpose of fertility or contraception is inexpensive and has no side effects.

Some women choose to use this method for religious reasons.

The cervical mucus method is sometimes combined with another method of natural family planning method, such as tracking basal body temperature. This is sometimes referred to as the symptothermal method.

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3 Potential Risks

Using the cervical mucus method for natural family planning does not pose any risks.

Likewise, using the cervical method for contraception does not pose any direct risks, but it does not offer protection from sexually transmitted infections.

In addition, the risk of unintended pregnancy with the cervical mucus method is somewhat higher than with other methods of birth control. As many as 23 out of 100 women practicing the cervical mucus method for birth control will get pregnant in the first year of typical use.

But, with correct use, the pregnancy rate may be as low as 3 out of 100 a year using the cervical mucus method for birth control. Formal training is necessary to master the cervical mucus method. This method also necessitates ongoing abstinence or use of another type of contraception, typically for 10 to 17 days of each cycle.

4 Preparing for your Procedure

In order to prepare for the cervical mucus method, it is very important to understand how cervical secretions change during a typical menstrual cycle.

You will generally have:

  • No noticeable cervical secretions for three to four days after you period ends.
  • Scanty, cloudy and sticky secretions for the next three to five days.
  • Abundant, clear and wet secretions for the next three to four days, the period before and during ovulation.
  • Noticeable cervical secretions for 11 to 14 days until you next period begins.

Although the length of these phases may fluctuate, contact your health care provider if your cervical secretions do not follow this general pattern. You may have an infection that requires medical attention.

If you would like to utilize the cervical method for birth control, consult your health care provider first if:

Your health care provider may discourage the use of the cervical mucus method if you have persistent reproductive tract infections.

5 What to Expect

Here you can find out what to expect from your cervical mucus method for natural family planning.

To use the cervical method:

  • Record your cervical secretions for several cycles: Beginning the day after your menstrual bleeding stops, observe and record your cervical secretions on a daily chart.To avoid confusing cervical secretions with semen or normal sex lubrication, avoid sex or use a barrier method of contraception during your first cycle.You should also avoid douching, which can wash out cervical secretions and make it very difficult to notice changes.
  • Check your cervical secretions before and after urinating: Wipe front to back with toilet paper. Record the color (yellow, white, clear, cloudy), consistency (thick, sticky or stretchy) and feel (dry, wet or slippery) of your secretions. Also note sensations of dryness, moistness or wetness in your vulva.
  • Make sure you carefully plan sex during fertile days: You are most fertile when your cervical secretions are abundant, clear, stretchy and slippery, much like a raw egg white.If you have hopes of getting pregnant, this is the best time to have sex. Ovulation most likely occurs during or one day after our last day of this type of cervical secretion also known as your peak day.If you have hopes of avoiding pregnancy, unprotected sex must be completely avoided from the day your cervical secretions begin until four days after our peak day.If you have sex before your cervical secretions begin, you may want to stay away from sex the next day and night so that you do not confuse the semen and arousal fluids with cervical secretions.There are some health care providers who also recommend staying away from unprotected sex or making use of a barrier method of contraception during your procedure because it is difficult to detect cervical secretions when they are mixed with menstrual blood.Interpreting and charting cervical secretions are not easy. Most women require more than one instructional session to recognize the pattern of secretions in a typical menstrual cycle. Consult your health care provider with any queries or concerns.

6 Procedure Results

If you do not understand your cervical mucus method for natural family planning results, consult with your doctor.

You are able to predict when you will ovulate and this information will help you determine the best days to engage in sex for either fertility or contraception.

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