The Ultimate Guide to Cervical Mucus (Pictures Included!)


Chelsey Geisz


8 Minutes

Does cervical mucus sound gross? Think again!

Although cervical mucus might sound like some weird nasal affliction thanks to its unsexy name, this substance serves an essential role in the female reproductive system. In fact, because it facilitates the meeting of sperm and egg, each and every one of us can thank this fertile fluid for our existence.

Cervical mucus is directly related to hormonal activity.

Did you know that cervical mucus is directly related to hormonal events taking place within your body? This means that the type of cervical mucus you observe externally can give you accurate insight into what’s taking place internally. Because cervical mucus observations can help you accurately identify when you’re fertile, they are the basis for most approaches to fertility awareness and natural family planning.

However, even if you aren’t interested in achieving or avoiding pregnancy, tracking your cervical mucus can give you very important data about your hormonal health. It can help you identify imbalances that are affecting your wellbeing and catch infections and medical concerns early—saving you weeks or even years of discomfort and confusion. Thus, regardless of your fertility goals, charting cervical mucus is still an incredibly valuable practice.

Note: This article explores cervical mucus through the lens of FEMM Health, which is the method of fertility awareness I teach. If you have learned a different approach to FAM, I’ll likely be using different terms than the ones you’re familiar with.

No matter which method you use, the physiological process remains consistent, so this article should still be helpful as you identify your own unique cervical mucus pattern.

Without further ado, let’s dive in!

Cervical mucus serves two primary purposes in the body.

Cervical mucus serves two essential roles: gatekeeper of the cervix and transporter of sperm. Kind of epic, right? Let’s look at those roles in depth:

1. Gatekeeper of the cervix

Depending on where you are in your cycle, the base of your cervix is either blocked or open.

Unless you’re on your period or getting ready to ovulate, infertile (G Type) mucus forms a thick plug at the base of your cervix that’s like a brick wall to bacteria and sperm. This is considered part of your immune system, as it protects your reproductive organs from external substances that could lead to disease.

Because it serves such an important role in keeping you healthy, your body was designed to only dissolve this mucus plug when something important needs to leave (menstrual blood) or when something important needs to enter (sperm around the time of ovulation).

For the rest of your cycle, you can count on that infertile mucus plug to keep sperm out while making sure your internal reproductive organs stay safe and healthy.

2. Transporter of sperm

Sperm lives and dies by cervical mucus. Literally. Without fertile cervical mucus, the vaginal environment is quite hostile to sperm, and it can only survive minutes to hours. 

Fertile cervical mucus changes the game: if it’s around, it not only enables sperm to survive for up to five days, it also serves as a superhighway to the egg. With the help of highly fertile mucus, sperm can reach an egg in a matter of minutes.

What are the three types of cervical mucus?

Hormones are chemical messengers that tell organs how to behave. Because your main reproductive hormones (estrogen and progesterone) fluctuate in a rhythmic, consistent way throughout your cycle, the behavior of your reproductive organs follows suit.

Your cervix is one such organ. As the connecting tube between the uterus and vagina, the cervix doesn’t have a neutral state—its behavior at any given moment is dependent on the hormonal message it’s receiving. This message changes depending on whether estrogen or progesterone is dominant (i.e., present in higher levels).

Essentially, the cervix has three “settings” based on the three main hormonal messages it receives throughout the cycle—progesterone high, estrogen rising, and estrogen high. Depending on which hormonal message is coming through, your cervix will produce different types of mucus.

1. G Type Mucus | Infertile, Dry

When progesterone levels are higher than estrogen, the cervix produces G Type mucus.

Fertility: Infertile.

Function: This mucus forms a plug at the base of your cervix that’s impenetrable to sperm or bacteria. This plug is part of your immune system and keeps your reproductive organs safe from external substances.

When: You’re most likely to observe G mucus between the end of your period and the beginning of your ovulatory phase. You’ll see it again between the end of your ovulatory phase and the start of your period. 

External Observation: Most commonly felt as a sensation of dryness when you wipe. You may also observe this as scant, cloudy, or nonexistent mucus. 

Photo Examples of G Mucus:

2. EL Mucus | Rising Fertility | Non-Peak

When estrogen levels are rising, the cervix produces EL Type mucus. You can remember this with the nickname “Estrogen Lite”.

Fertility: Possibly fertile.

Function: This mucus nourishes sperm and helps keep it alive 3-5 days. It also weeds out any malformed sperm.

When: You may have a few days of dryness after menstruation, and then you’ll start to observe EL mucus at the beginning of your ovulatory phase.

External Observation: You’ll likely first observe this mucus as a sensation of increased slipperiness/moisture while wiping. As you progress into your fertile window, you may notice it as lotion-y, milky, or opaque mucus that stretches less than one inch.

Photo Examples of EL mucus:

3. ES Mucus | High Fertility | Peak

When estrogen levels are high, the cervix produces ES Type mucus. To remember this name, think of “Estrogen Strong”.

Fertility: Highly fertile.

Function: This mucus is like a superhighway for sperm. When ES is present, sperm can reach the egg in a matter of minutes.

When: You’re likely to see ES mucus during the peak of your ovulatory phase.

External Observation: This mucus feels noticeably slippery and lubricative when you’re wiping. In fact, you might even feel a wet sensation as you’re walking around.

ES mucus often looks like raw egg white and is clear, slippery, and stretches more than an inch.

Photo Examples of ES Mucus:

How do I find my fertile window with cervical mucus?

Now that you know the two roles of cervical mucus—gatekeeper of the cervix and transporter of sperm—let’s look at how those responsibilities overlap to impact your fertility.

Most of the time, sperm can only reach and fertilize an egg under two conditions: if the cervix is unobstructed, and if there is fertile mucus present. Using those two requirements, we can narrow down the cycle to the fertile window.

Condition #1: The cervix must be unobstructed.

Whenever progesterone is dominant, G Type mucus is present and forms a plug at the base of the cervix. If an egg were available to be fertilized, this mucus barrier would block sperm from reaching it.

Thus, G mucus indicates infertility. When the G mucus barrier dissolves (menstruation and approaching ovulation), your cervix is unobstructed.

Condition #2: Fertile mucus must be present.

The cervix produces EL mucus when estrogen levels are rising and ES mucus when estrogen levels are high. This fertile mucus nourishes the sperm and helps it survive the journey to the egg.

One Key Exception:

Now, one key exception to these rules comes in the three days following Peak Day (the last day you observe fertile cervical mucus and the approximate time of ovulation). This is because it can sometimes take up to three days for the G mucus plug to fill in again as estrogen levels are dropping and progesterone levels rising.

Learning to navigate this window can be tricky, which is why I strongly encourage working with a certified fertility awareness educator if you’re serious about avoiding or achieving pregnancy.

That said, you can see the conditions are right for fertility during one narrow window of time. Because ovulation happens only once each cycle, you can be confident you’re not going to get pregnant at any other time of the month.

Identifying this window correctly is the key to using Fertility Awareness Method correctly.

Now you're ready to learn your unique cervical mucus pattern.

Odds are very high your cervical mucus pattern won’t be as picture-perfect as the one we’ve been looking at. In many cases, that’s fine—you’re just a normal human!

However, there are a few characteristics of a healthy cycle pattern you should be watching for. These benchmarks change based on age and reproductive stage, but if you’re in your main reproductive years, diverging from these patterns can be a red flag for your overall health.

Charting your cervical mucus observations is an invaluable way to catch the signs of an imbalance early and can give you very helpful data to share with your doctor. Learn more about the indicators of a healthy cycle here!

Tips for observing cervical mucus:

  1. Get in the habit of observing your toilet paper each time you wipe. You want to be looking for changes in the quantity, quality, and consistency of the mucus.
  2. As you wipe from front to back, pay attention to how the toilet paper feels across your vulva. Is it dry, lubricative, or slippery?
  3. Pay special attention after a bowel movement and/or any strenuous exercise. Both activities are likely to bring forward cervical mucus for observation.
  4. For increased confidence, you can do kegel exercises to bring mucus forward. This can achieve the same effect as exercise or a bowel movement.
  5. Don’t get caught up in what you see in your underwear. These observations of dried mucus on fabric are usually more confusing than helpful.
  6. At first, it may be difficult to distinguish fertile cervical mucus from seminal or arousal fluid. For this reason, you are encouraged to abstain from intercourse during your first cycle of tracking so that you can get an accurate read on your cervical mucus pattern.
  7. If you’re interested in tracking your cervical mucus observations, charts are included in the free FAM Starter Kit.


Q. I never see fertile cervical mucus. Is something wrong?

A. Potentially. However, it’s also possible that you haven’t known what to look for. If you haven’t been intentionally observing cervical mucus, it’s easy to miss it. If you still aren’t seeing anything between periods after two cycles of tracking, this indicates a potential hormonal imbalance and is something you should definitely tell your doctor.

Q. My cervical mucus looks funky. When do I know when it’s unhealthy?

A. If you’ve been observing your cervical mucus for a while and notice something unusual, this can be an early sign of a hormonal issue—especially if you also notice other changes in your period and the length of your cycle. If this happens for two cycles in a row, make sure you tell your doctor.

Abnormal discharge can also signal an infection. Colors like gray, green, yellow, and brown are red flags, as is discharge that smells metallic, fishy, or otherwise off. Thick, chunky discharge is also a cause for concern. Talk to your doctor if you consistently notice these qualities when you wipe.

Next Steps

Hopefully, this got you excited about tracking your own cervical mucus observations. Download the free FAM Starter Pack if you’d like to start tracking today!

If you are serious about achieving or avoiding pregnancy, or if you’ve noticed abnormalities in your cycle pattern, you’re strongly encouraged to work with a fertility awareness instructor. Click here to learn more.

Happy tracking!

Want to learn more and/or start using FAM? Click here to download the FREE FAM Starter Kit.

Serious about achieving or preventing pregnancy? Click here to learn how mastering FAM can help you reach your fertility goals.

Curious if FAM is for you? Take this brief assessment to determine if FAM is the right fit for your personality and lifestyle.


I'm Chelsey.

I believe that you were fearfully and wonderfully made in the image of God, and therefore, your body reveals divine truth. My calling is to help you step into the full, electric power of your female design to discover who God created you to be.


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