What Is Egg White Cervical Mucus (EWCM)?

All About Egg White Discharge and Getting Pregnant

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If you notice egg white vaginal discharge, 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 in trying to conceive forums.

While cervical mucus changes throughout a woman's 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 "cleanliness" problem. They may even douche to "clean" things up. (Please don't do this!) However, anyone who is trying to conceive knows that 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.)

Why It's Important

The reason fertile cervical mucus is called "egg white cervical mucus" is because it does look a lot like raw egg whites. EWCM 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 can't swim or survive as well. This may lead to trouble getting pregnant. 

(A lack of fertile quality cervical mucus can also indicate a hormonal imbalance or problems with ovulation.

Sometimes referred to as hostile cervical mucus, there's more information on this below.) 

When You'll See It 

Vaginal discharge isn't always friendly to sperm.  Your cervical mucus changes throughout your menstrual cycle. 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 will dry up and return to a more sticky consistency.

Usually, you should 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. That said, two or three days is more typical. 

Some women get fertile looking cervical mucus again just before their period comes. It may become watery or even egg-white like. This isn't a sign of ovulation and having sex during this time will not help you get pregnant.

Causes

The hormones that trigger the ovaries to release an egg during ovulation also trigger other changes in your body. These changes include things like having more fertile vaginal discharge, changes in the cervix, and even 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), due to age, or a hormonal imbalance.

Multiple Patches 

Usually, you should only notice egg white cervical mucus for a few days just before ovulation. But some women get multiple patches of egg white cervical mucus. These days of EWCM may alternate with days of less fertile cervical mucus. This is common in women with polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS).

Since it's not possible to know which patch of egg white cervical mucus is the one preceding ovulation, in this case, you should treat each appearance of EWCM as potentially the "right" day to have sex to get pregnant.

Excess vaginal discharge can also signal an infection. If the discharge is accompanied by other symptoms such as burning, itching, or a bad smell, or if the discharge is an odd color, talk to your doctor.

Whatever the situation is, if you're unsure if your vaginal discharge is normal, see your doctor. A vaginal infection can make conception more difficult. (While you're there, don't forget to ask questions about trying to conceive.)

How to Check for It 

Research shows that tracking cervical mucus changes can help you time sex for pregnancy. It may be even more helpful that 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.

How can you check for EWCM? You can check 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. 

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.

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 exists a very specific method of cervical mucus tracking known as the Billings Method. You don't need to study or learn this technique to track cervical mucus, but now you'll know what it is if someone mentions it.

Also known as the Billings ovulation method or the ovulation method, it was developed by Dr. John and Evelyn Billings of Melbourne, Australia, in the 1950s. It is a form of natural family planning used by some couples to prevent pregnancy. Other couples use it to achieve pregnancy.

No Rise in Temperature 

Fertile cervical mucus is typically a sign that ovulation is coming. On a body basal temperature chart, you know that ovulation has occurred after a three-day rise in temperature occurs.

So what does it mean if you get egg white cervical mucus, but never see the increase in temperature? There are a few possible reasons this may occur:

  • You may not be ovulating.
  • You may not be charting your temperatures carefully. (For example, taking your temperature at different times in the morning.)
  • You may be part of the small percentage of women who don't get an increase in basal body temperature after ovulation.

If you don't get the temperature rise after seeing cervical mucus, and this occurs frequently, you should bring your charts to your OB/GYN. She may be able to do some fertility testing, or provide advice on charting (if your charting technique is the problem.)

Lack of Discharge

Not every woman will have egg white cervical mucus. That doesn't necessarily mean you have a fertility problem, but it could signal one. 

Some women may notice more watery cervical mucus that never quite becomes like raw egg white. If this is your situation, then the best time to have sex to get pregnant would be the days you have this watery cervical mucus. It is possible to get pregnant and never get the so-called "ideal" egg white cervical mucus.

If you don't seem to get even watery cervical mucus throughout your cycle, you should talk to your doctor, especially if you've been trying to get pregnant for a while. A lack of cervical mucus, sometimes known as hostile cervical mucus, can cause infertility.

Ironically, the fertility drug Clomid in higher doses can lead to a lack of egg white or watery cervical mucus.

Your doctor may recommend using a fertility friendly lubricant. Do not use conventional lubricants. They can be harmful to sperm and may disrupt the natural flora and pH balance of your vagina.

Accidental Removal 

It's highly unlikely that you'll remove too much cervical mucus simply by checking it. However, douching could lead to less cervical mucus and decrease your chances of getting pregnant.

You should not douche, especially if you're trying to get pregnant. Vaginal "cleansing" products wash away the good bacteria that keep yeast infections at bay. They can also cause irritation. Vaginal discharge is your body's natural way of keeping the area clean. 

Early Pregnancy Detection? 

Those tracking cervical mucus to time sex for pregnancy tend to be more aware of any changes. You may be wondering if you can detect early pregnancy by your cervical mucus.

Here's the story: you can't really tell. While your vaginal discharge will eventually change during pregnancy, those changes aren't noticeable until much later.

A Word From Verywell

Cervical mucus is a natural and normal part of a healthy reproductive system. While you may feel compelled to wash it away, don't do it! Vaginal discharge serves a purpose. When you're in the fertile mode of your cycle, it helps keep sperm alive and moving. At other times of the month, it keeps out potentially infectious micro organisms.

You should have two to five days of egg white quality cervical mucus every month. If you see it much more often than that—or don't ever get fertile quality vaginal discharge—talk to your doctor.

Absolutely talk to your doctor if you're experiencing itching, irritation, or if your discharge has a pungent odor. This could be a sign of infection, which might threaten your fertility.   

You may feel uncomfortable talking to your physician about vaginal discharge, but this is par for the course for them. There's no need to feel embarrassed. They want to help.       

Sources:

Speroff, Leon; Fritz, Marc A. Clinical Gynecologic Endocrinology & Infertility, 8th Edition. United States of America: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins; 2010.

Weschler, T. Taking Charge of Your Fertility (20th Anniversary Edition). United States of America: Harper Collins Publishers Inc; 2015.

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