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What is the Cervical Mucus Method?
The cervical mucus method is a natural method of contraception based around the monitoring of fluid secreted by the cervix. The cervix is the lower part of the uterus that connects to the vagina, and has an opening for sperm to enter and menstrual fluid or cervical mucus to exit. The secretion of cervical mucus, a thick white discharge, is a possible indicator of fertility. There are two different ways of undertaking the cervical mucus method: the TwoDay method, and another method concerning the consistency of the mucus.
How to Use
It can be very difficult to interpret changes in your cervical mucus. Ideally, you should take a class at a local family planning clinic that can teach you how to use this method accurately. It is also a good idea to abstain from unprotected intercourse (or other things that may alter your cervical secretions) for the first month that you use this method. That way you can accurately chart changes in your secretions. While cervical mucus can sometimes be observed as discharge on underwear or when using the restroom, the best way to observe whether or not mucus is being secreted is to insert a finger into the vagina and check for the mucus. You should try stretching the mucus secretions between your thumb and index finger to see how far they stretch. It is a good idea to keep track of changes in the consistency of your cervical mucus in a diary or on a special chart. You should take note of color, quantity, and slipperiness of the mucus. For the much simpler TwoDay method, the woman checks for secretions every day. If she has not had any secretions for two days in a row, then it suggests (but does not guarantee) that she is infertile. The woman does not concern herself with the consistency or makeup of the secretions using this method, which makes it slightly less effective. In other methods, such as the Basal Body Temperature method, the woman also keeps track of the consistency and appearance of her cervical mucus. The nature of the mucus will indicate at what stage of the menstrual cycle the woman is in. Obviously, this is a much more subjective method that requires education from a trained professional.
When Are You Fertile?
Around the time of ovulation, the cervical mucus tends to be clearer and more slippery than at other times of the month. This is when a woman is most fertile. During this time the secretions should be able to stretch several inches between your thumb and forefinger. Unprotected intercourse should be avoided from the first day that you notice a stretchy, clear discharge until four days after the "peak" in stretchy secretions. After ovulation a woman may experience "dry days". These are days when little or no discharge is produced. Three to four days after the dry days begin it is safe to have intercourse again.
Advantages of the Cervical Mucus Method
- It is free.
- Since it is a natural method, it can be used if the user(s) are morally or religiously opposed to other “artificial” methods of contraception.
- This method can be combined with other contraception methods to create an even more effective contraceptive method.
- Does not involve using hormones or chemicals.
- You learn more about your body.
Disadvantages of the Cervical Mucus Method
- Offers no protection against sexually transmitted infections.
- Requires considerable observation about the presence of cervical mucus. Therefore, it is not as reliable as other methods.
- Levels of discharge vary among women, so it may be less effective for women that produce small amounts of discharge.
- Many things can interfere with making accurate observations of your cervical secretions. Some examples are douches, spermicides, lubricants, and semen.
- Requires a certain level of comfort with a woman’s own body. If a woman is uncomfortable with inserting her fingers into her own vagina, it is a largely unfeasible method.
Other than the possible cost of taking classes to learn how to use this method, it is free!
The perfect use rate for the TwoDay method has been observed at 4%, which means it is as effective as the Withdrawal method. However, for typical use the failure rate is about 25%.
LeVay, Simon, Janice I. Baldwin, and John D. Baldwin. "Contraception and Abortion." Discovering Human Sexuality. Sunderland, MA: Sinauer Associates, 2009. Print.
Created 23 April 206, last updated 11 October 2012