Is mucus tracking a reliable form of birth control?
Q. I have heard there is something called mucus tracking that can be used to avoid pregnancy. Is this a good method of birth control?
A. Cervical mucus changes throughout the menstrual cycle under the influence of the hormonal orchestra. The cervical mucus comes out of the vaginal opening as a discharge.
It changes in colour, texture, and amount during your menstrual cycle, with notable changes occurring especially around ovulation.
The cervical mucus changes have been used widely as a method to indicate the fertility phase in the menstrual cycle.
The charting of the cervical mucus changes and sometimes used together with temperature changes may indicate the so-called 'safe days' - but may not be so safe after all.
Although the method is free, does not cause harm and is hormone-free, it should not be used as a method of contraception because the cervical mucus is under many influences and the thickness does not always correlate with ovulation
During your menstrual bleed, the blood flow makes it difficult to notice the mucus and usually for a few days after menstruation, there may be no mucus and visible discharge. During ovulation, the mucus is usually yellow, white, or cloudy, and it feels sticky. The most mucus increases right before ovulation. It's clear and feels slippery.
Certain conditions can alter your natural cervical mucus and have an impact on the tracking - breastfeeding, surgery on your cervix, vaginitis, sexually transmitted diseases, douching, menopause and recent use of hormonal therapy.
Although the method is free, does not cause harm and is hormone-free, it should not be used as a method of contraception because the cervical mucus is under many influences and the thickness does not always correlate with ovulation. Please consult your doctor for contraception or fertility advice.
• Dr Tlaleng Mofokeng (MBChB), sexual and reproductive health practice, Disa Clinic, safersex.co.za.
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