30 May, 2004
In a few months, I plan to go off hormonal birth control and begin trying to conceive. Because of certain medical issues, my doctor has advised me to begin charting my cycles immediately, tracking both basal body temperature and cervical fluid. (The former tells you only that you have ovulated and the length of your luteal phase; the latter is necessary to predict ovulation and time intercourse properly.) Of course, checking the consistency of cervical fluid requires looking at it (the recommended methods are looking at toilet paper after each urination or removing some mucous from the area of the cervix with one's finger).
How can I check the consistency and appearance of my cervical fluid without running the risk of making myself a niddah unnecessarily? Would I use a different method during the seven white days than I would use the rest of the month?
According to Toni Weschler, the author of Taking Charge of Your Fertility, it is actually best to check for cervical secretions BEFORE urinating (otherwise they may be washed away by the urine). This is also better halachically, as the rules for evaluating stains are more stringent immediately (within 10-15 seconds) after urination. Check for your secretions externally (at the perineum), not internally (putting fingers in the vagina), as internal exams are also judged more stringently. If you check only externally, then small stains (area smaller than a dime) will not make you niddah. To further decrease the chances, try at first to check with toilet paper rather than your fingers. Stains found on toilet paper have more room for leniency (see article on stains for why). If you find that without using your fingers you cannot determine the consistency, then go back to fingers and just hope that any staining that you might experience will be slight.
During the seven clean days, check for secretions prior to doing bedikot. Otherwise, the fluid will end up on the bedikah cloth and will be harder to check for fertility purposes.
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