Also known as the cervical mucus method, this technique is not for every woman. It requires a woman to be very comfortable with her body since she will need to regularly check her cervical mucus. But it can also help a woman become much more attuned to the changes that happen within her body every month.
How it Works
This family planning technique is based on the idea that a lack of cervical mucus indicates that an egg has not yet been released by the ovaries. Additionally, without the mucus, sperm will not be able to survive inside a woman until the time that an egg is released.
Like the rest of your reproductive system, your cervix is affected by the monthly changes in your body. Just after you finish your period, your cervix produces very little, if any, mucus causing you to have a few days where your vagina appears to be quite dry. As you progress through your cycle, you body will begin to produce more cervical mucus.
As you get closer to ovulation, your cervical mucus will become thinner and stickier. When ovulation is about to occur, your cervical mucus will be clear, slippery and very stretchy, similar to a raw egg white. This type of mucus is ideal for sperm to swim in and helps the sperm swim up to your uterus. While this is great for women who are trying to conceive, women who are trying to avoid pregnancy will want to abstain from sex or use another form of birth control, like condoms or the sponge, during this time.
After ovulation, the production of mucus is slowed down again. If you do notice any mucus, it will likely be thicker and cloudier.
Checking the Mucus
There are three ways in which you can check your cervical mucus:
- Use your finger or toilet paper to wipe across the opening of vagina and then take a look at the mucus.
- Wear a panty liner and examine any cervical mucus that may be left on it (this can be hard to detect, though)
- The best way: reach in and get a sample of your cervical mucus. Examine the consistency and try to stretch the mucus between your fingers. If you can stretch it at least three inches without it breaking, then ovulation is about to occur.
If you do not want to get pregnant, then sex should be avoided from the time you begin to notice the slippery, stretchy mucus until at least two days after it is gone.
By itself, this method is not as reliable as other methods of birth control and has an average failure rate of 20% per year. However, using the cervical mucus method along with another form of fertility awareness, like the symptom-thermal method, can offer you more insight as to when you are most fertile.
If you plan to use this method of natural birth control, it is strongly recommended that you receive training in the technique by your doctor or another trained professional.
Discover more about other forms of natural birth control by chatting with women in our birth control forum.