One of the most common confusions when first learning the Fertility Awareness Method is figuring out what the heck vaginal cell slough is and how it differentiates from mucus.
This often leads to people over-interpreting mucus and thinking they are fertile for many more days than they really are and having inaccurate charts. Read on to find out how to distinguish these two – it’s actually really easy!
Vaginal cell slough is the normal pasty discharge made from your vagina that is not fertile and has nothing to do with charting. Whereas cervical mucus is what you need to learn to chart to know when you are fertile. Often these two can appear similar to the untrained eye, but they are quite different once you’ve figured it all out.
Here are the main characteristics of these two fluids:
- Dissipates/evaporates when you rub it between your fingers
- Dissolves if you put it in a glass of water
- Often has a pasty or lotiony consistency
- Has staying power/keeps it’s shape when stretched between your fingers
- Curls up into a little ball if you put it in a glass of water
- Can be cloudy/white/clear/red colour, can stretch a very tiny amount up to over an inch
If you haven’t heard of the glass of water test try it out! It’s a fun science experiment you can do for yourself.
The reason you want to know the difference is because it’s very important to know what days are truly dry days and what days you have “creamy” cervical mucus. This is key in order to know when you are fertile and infertile during your cycle.
Honestly, I’m not a fan of the “creamy, sticky, pasty, eggwhite” classification in some fertility awareness methods because it’s part of what leads to this confusion. Cell slough actually is quite creamy or pasty, but it’s not mucus so doesn’t need to be charted, something a lot of people struggle with. This is one reason I like the Justisse Method because we don’t use this classification, instead focusing on the sensation, colour, and stretchiness as three unique characteristics.
Focus on the fact that cell slough dissipates/evaporates and you’ll be set! Better charts and more dry days are in your future!