Do you suffer from period cramps? It may seem normal to most women. But have you ever felt lower abdominal pain in the middle of the menstrual cycle? It could be due to ovulation pain.
Almost 20% – 30% of women suffer from this painful ovulation every month. It’s quite normal and in most cases and there’s nothing to worry about, but the prolonged and severe ovulation pain is not included.
What is Ovulation pain/cramp?
Ovulation pain is the pain sensation that you may feel during the middle of your menstrual period. It is also known as ‘Mittelschmerz’, which is the German for “middle pain”.
The pain sensation is usually felt at the one side of the pelvis but may spread into the back, and legs. This is somewhat different from menstrual cramps and implantation cramps.
A brief idea about Ovulation
Ovulation is a part of the menstrual cycle that happens in the mid of the cycle. There are two ovaries in a women’s body attached to the uterus by a utero-ovarian ligament. In each cycle, one egg is released from one ovary, and in every cycle, the egg is released from the alternate ovary.
There are so many follicles growing inside the ovaries throughout the cycle. In the middle of the cycle, they grow into a fluid-filled follicle named Graafian follicle, and the healthiest among them is released. This process is known as ovulation.
After 2 weeks of the release of the secondary oocyte or, the ova, the uterus sheds which causes the menstrual bleeding.
What causes Ovulation pain?
Here are the 4 possible reasons for ovulation cramping.
#1 Due to the ovarian wall
The Graafian follicle ruptures and the egg oozes out of the ovary by rupturing the wall. Sometimes this process may be painful.
#2 Fallopian tube contraction
After rupturing the ovarian wall, the ova has to pass through the fallopian tube, and during this journey, the tube may contract, causing the cramp.
#3 Follicle growth
When the follicles are growing and suddenly released, they can stretch the ovarian wall causing sharp pain.
#4 Due to fluid
When the follicle is ruptured, there may be some leakage of blood and other fluid which causes tissue irritation and severe pain.
If you want to know more you can refer to this video.
How long does Ovulation pain last?
This differs from person to person. It may last from a few minutes to a few hours and up to 2 days also in some cases.
Some women may feel the pain before the day of ovulation, and some might get ovulation cramps at the time of ovulation which can last up to the next day of ovulating.
In which parts of my body may I feel Ovulation cramps?
Normally the pain is felt in the lower abdomen and pelvis on one side. Ovulation pain is typically felt in that side of the ovary on which you are ovulating on that cycle.
Generally, the ovaries switch sides while ovulating. Each ovary releases an egg every other month.
So if the right ovary is releasing the egg (secondary oocyte to be precise), that’s where you’ll feel the pain. Due to this, some people find that the cramp switches sides from one cycle to the next.
Symptoms of ovulation cramps
The symptoms of ovulation pain may vary. It can be a sharp pain or maybe a dull ache. The common ones include:
- Twinges in the lower abdomen.
- Dull cramp in some cases.
- Nausea, vomiting.
- Pelvic pain.
- One-sided pain.
- Vaginal discharge.
Roles of Hormones
During the period of the menstrual cycle, there is a huge hormonal change in women’s bodies. The ovulation occurs due to the LH surge, in which the luteinizing hormone is at its peak.
During this time estrogen and progesterone are also present in the body which causes white discharge, breast enlargement, and helps in developing secondary sex organs.
They can cause mood swings too!
What does ovulation pain feel like?
How the ovulation pain feels, is up to interpretation. For some, it may be extremely painful, and unbearable, and some might tell you that it’s better than menstrual cramps.
You may feel extreme pressure on the site of ovulation, or you may feel twinges.
Twinges can be described as if someone had put a string inside your pelvis and someone has pricked it. This kind of sudden and sharp pain you might experience during ovulation pain.
Besides severe ovulation pain, in the time of ovulation, you may feel other problems including:
Due to the action of hormones, one might have a heavy white discharge, which is the infertile cervical mucus This is not abnormal but an excessive amount is also not expected.
Intercourse may be painful during this time for women who feel ovulation pain. Some amount of blood can be released during ovulation, and it may settle down in the lower pelvis. This irritates the surrounding tissues and pain during intercourse.
Breast pain during ovulation
Although it is not directly related to ovulation, the gonadal and gonadotropic hormones released in the body act upon the breasts and might cause pain during this period.
How to deal with it?
You can take over-the-counter pain relievers during the pain. If you are facing it for a long time, and know when it’s going to happen, take pain relievers before a day of ovulation. But taking painkillers for long is also not recommended.
There are so many home remedies used to treat ovulation pain, the hot bath being the most popular. You can take a warm bath to relieve your pain.
You can also relieve your lower abdominal pain using a heating pad.
Watch this video to know more about it.
Ovulation pain and Pregnancy: What’s the relation?
Ovulation pain is a good secondary sign of fertility. Why not primary? Because not every single woman experiences ovulation pain. If someone is experiencing it, it can help in tracking the ovulation day, but not to be confused with other lower abdominal pain.
This pain can tell you about your fertility, that you’re ovulating but doesn’t have any relation to pregnancy.
You just can plan your sex by determining the day of ovulation from the ovulation pain you get. That’s it, nothing more to do with pregnancy.
Can Ovulation pain be completely cured?
If you take oral contraceptives, you might stop ovulation completely, and if there is no ovulation, the mid-cycle cramps will also be cured completely.
Remember! This hormonal contraception method may also affect a women’s health and can delay pregnancy (in some cases it gets difficult to conceive if OCPs are taken regularly for a long time).
Do I need to worry about it?
Ovulation cramp is quite normal among women. But if something goes beyond its limit, it needs our attention. If it lasts for too long, and you feel severe pain during ovulation, it may want to warn you about the other symptoms or serious condition.
So, if you feel severe long-lasting pain, excessive bleeding, heavy vaginal discharge consult your gynecologist immediately.
Other conditions having similar symptoms
Many serious conditions can have similar symptoms as ovulation pain symptoms which include the followings:
In this case, the implantation of the fetus occurs outside the uterus, mainly somewhere in the fallopian tubes. This is an extremely painful condition and may harm the mother’s body if not treated in time.
Endometriosis is an inflammatory condition in which tissue that normally lines the uterus grows in another area of the body such as the abdomen and affects the ovaries and fallopian tubes.
Pelvic Inflammatory Disease
Pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) is an infection usually caused by sexually transmitted infection (STI, a major reason is unprotected sex), like Chlamydia, or, Gonorrhea affecting women’s reproductive system. They include the uterus, ovaries, fallopian tubes, and cervix. This also causes severe pelvic pain.
When there is inflammation in the appendix, severe lower abdominal pain occurs. This needs to be treated as soon as possible.
They are fluid-filled pouches developing into the ovary and cause PCOS and PCOD in most cases. If you want to know more about PCOS and Endometriosis, you may refer to this article.
They are typically the benign outgrowth in various parts of the uterus causing pain and bleeding. Do you want to learn more? Refer to this amazing article.
Apart from these, urinary problems, constipation, IBS may also cause severe pelvic pain.
How to differentiate ovulation cramps from other lower abdominal pains?
The ovulation pain happens only in the middle of the menstrual cycle and it’s one-sided. The other lower abdominal pains may be differentiated from the ovulation cramps from the time of happening.
In other cases:
- The pain occurs on both sides of the body
- Pain lasts for several days
- Pain may be associated with an injury
- There may be swelling or bloating
- Painful urination may occur.
When should I visit my Gynaecologist?
If you are facing the following conditions, you should visit a doctor:
- Long-lasting high fever.
- Painful urination.
- Severe nausea or vomiting.
- Missed period.
- Trouble in breathing.
- Heavy vaginal bleeding and discharge with pungent smell between periods.
- Red or itchy skin at the lower pelvis.
If you are facing problems, consult your healthcare provider, get yourself diagnosed and treated, and lead a healthy and happy life!
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Do note that any information found on the site does not constitute legal or medical advice. Should you face health issues, please visit your doctor to get yourself diagnosed. Icy Health offers expert opinions and advice for informational purposes only. This is not a substitute for professional medical advice.