Ovulation pain: Symptoms, causes, and pain relief

You could experience pain during ovulation, which may feel like a twinge or a cramp. To know more about ovulation pain, its symptoms and causes, and how to get relief from it, read the sections below.

What is ovulation pain?

Ovulation pain, also known as mittelschmerz, is a mid-cycle pelvic pain that you could experience during ovulation. Ovulation is a phase of menstruation where one of the ovaries releases an egg for fertilization. Usually, ovulation occurs monthly until you start menopause, except during pregnancy and breastfeeding.

How common is ovulation pain?

Around one out five women experience some symptoms of ovulation pain. While the ovulation pain duration could vary from woman to woman, the pain could last from a few minutes to 2 days.

Is it normal to have ovulation pain?

Generally, ovulation pain is a normal part of the menstrual cycle. However, severe or prolonged pain could be a sign of a gynaecological problem, requiring medical treatment.

Is ovulation pain similar to period pain?

Ovulation pain could feel similar to the pain you experience during periods, but it usually occurs mid-cycle, 2 weeks before the start of your period.

Symptoms of ovulation pain

You may experience ovulation pain symptoms such as pain that:

  • Is felt in the lower abdomen, inside the hip bone

  • Occurs mid-cycle, around 2 weeks before your next period starts

  • Is felt on either the right or left side of the abdomen, depending on which side the ovary is releasing an egg in that menstrual cycle

  • Feels like an uneasy pressure, sharp pain, cramp, or twinge

  • Lasts anywhere from a few minutes to 48 hours

Learn more about ovulation symptoms.

Causes of ovulation pain

The possible causes of ovulation pain are:

  • Enlarging follicle: Each cycle, hormones trigger the production of around 20 follicles from an ovary. While each follicle contains an immature egg, only one follicle matures usually. As this follicle enlarges, the ovary membrane stretches and could cause ovulation pain.

  • Ruptured follicle: When a mature egg is released from the follicle, it may lead to a little bleeding. The blood or fluids released along with the egg could irritate the abdominal lining, causing ovulation pain.

Ovulation pain and underlying medical conditions

You don’t need to worry about ovulation pain as it is usually harmless. However, severe or prolonged ovulation pain can be a symptom of an underlying medical condition, such as:

  • Endometriosis: This is an inflammatory condition where the womb lining grows outside the uterus and affects the ovaries, fallopian tubes, and bowel.

  • Salpingitis: In this, the fallopian tubes get inflamed after an infection.

  • Ovarian cyst: This is an abnormal fluid pocket that grows on the ovary.

  • Chronic pelvic inflammatory disease: This is an infection that affects the upper reproductive organs, including the ovaries, fallopian tubes, and uterus.

  • Ectopic pregnancy: This is an abnormal pregnancy that occurs outside the uterus, often in the fallopian tubes, and requires emergency medical care.

  • Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs): Diseases such as chlamydia can lead to inflammation that causes ovulation pain.

  • Appendicitis: This is an inflammation of the appendix that feels similar to ovulation pain and requires urgent medical treatment.

  • Abdominal adhesions: These are scar-like tissue that form after a cesarean (C-section) or other abdominal surgery.

  • Other gastrointestinal issues: These include perforated ulcers, inflammatory bowel disease, and gastroenteritis.

If you are experiencing ovulation pain that is severe and lasts long, consult your Doctor.

Ovulation pain diagnosis

Here are some of the diagnostic processes that your doctor could employ to identify the cause of your ovulation pain:

  • Your medical history

  • Physical examination, such as a pelvic examination

  • Vaginal ultrasound

  • Abdominal ultrasound

  • Blood tests

  • Cervical cultures

  • Exploratory surgery, such as laparoscopy

Ovulation pain treatment and self-care

Most women don’t get any treatment for ovulation pain as the pain goes away on its own in a day or two. However, you can follow the self-care tips given below to relieve your ovulation pain:

  • Try to relax and take bed rest when the ovulation pain is bad

  • Use over-the-counter medications for pain relief

  • Take warm baths and use hot water bottles or heat packs to warm your lower abdomen

  • Take nonsteroidal, anti-inflammatory medications

Consult your Doctor if these treatments don’t help ease your ovulation pain. Your Doctor can help identify or rule out any underlying medical problem.

Ovulation pain prevention

You can avoid ovulation pain by preventing ovulation. Talk to your doctor about hormonal contraceptives such as birth control pills that prevent ovulation and pregnancy.

Using ovulation pain for family planning

You can use ovulation pain to know when you’re ovulating, which can help you to plan or avoid getting pregnant.

Since your odds of conceiving are increased during the ovulation period:

However, instead of relying solely on ovulation pain to avoid pregnancy, use other contraceptives, especially the barrier type, that are more reliable.

You can also use our free and accurate Ovulation Calculator to plan your pregnancy.

When to see a Doctor

Consult your Doctor if you have any of the following symptoms:

  • Fever above 100.4 °F

  • Painful urination

  • Redness or burning sensation

  • Severe nausea/vomiting

  • Severe pain mid-cycle, which lasts for more than 3 days or occurs during most months

  • Missed period

  • Heavy bleeding between periods

  • Over-the-counter pain medications not offering pain relief


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