You may have noticed a pain on one side of your abdomen right around the time you ovulate. This pain is called ovulation pain. If you are alert to changes in your body, you may also notice other signs of ovulation taking place, such as an increase in cervical mucus, bloating, or tender breasts. The medical term for ovulation pain is mittelschmerz, a German word meaning “middle pain”. Not everyone notices or has pain during ovulation. Only about 1 in 5 women experience mittelschmerz, and in most cases, it can be relieved with an over the counter medication like Tylenol.
What Does Ovulation Pain Feel Like?
Some women describe ovulation pain as a pinching feeling and others describe it as feeling similar to menstrual cramps. The pain is generally on one side of the lower abdomen, right around your hip bone. During a typical menstrual cycle, a woman will release one egg from one of her ovaries. When the egg is released during ovulation, it ruptures through a tiny follicle. This rupturing can cause pain and sometimes even mild spotting or bleeding, known as ovulation spotting. If you are keeping track of your cycles, you may notice that you feel ovulation pain on a different side each month. Most women do not ovulate from the same ovary every month, so you may feel ovulation pain on one side during one month and the other side the next month. However, it is also possible to feel ovulation pain on the same side for a few months in a row.
How Long Does Ovulation Pain Last?
When a woman ovulates, the egg bursts through a follicle inside her ovary and is moved through the fallopian tube towards the uterus. During ovulation, the fallopian tube contracts rhythmically. These contractions help to push the egg through the fallopian tube and towards the uterus. The pain you feel during ovulation is most likely a result of the egg bursting through the follicle. Following that, you may notice some mild cramping as the fallopian tube contracts and moves the egg through the fallopian tube. You may notice a pinching pain first – probably from the follicle bursting – and then dull cramping. Some women only notice the cramping feeling and others feel both types of ovulation pain. It can last for a few hours or a few days.
For most women ovulation pain is not severe and usually disappears within a day or so after ovulating. If you are having severe abdominal pain, you may be experiencing something other than ovulation pain. There are some conditions that could be confused with ovulation pain such as ovarian cysts, appendicitis, or endometriosis. If you are having severe abdominal pain that is not typical for you or does not go away after a few days, you should consult your doctor.
Ovulation Pain Relief
If you are having discomfort from ovulation pain, there are several things you can try to help relieve the pain.
Tips for Relieving Ovulation Pain:
- Drink plenty of water. Dehydration can make the cramping pain more intense. Drinking 6-8 glasses of water a day will not only keep you hydrated but it may help keep the cramping at bay.
- Take a warm bath. A warm bath will help you relax and may help relieve the pain.
- Use a heating pad. Heating pads are great for relieving pain or muscle aches. However, if you are trying to conceive, you may want to avoid using a heating pad. Although it may not be a problem, there is the potential that the heating pad could impair ovulation or that it could cause egg damage.
- Take a mild pain reliever like Tylenol or Ibuprofen. Take a pain reliever as soon as you notice ovulation pain. If your cycles are predictable, you may even want to start taking a pain reliever before you ovulate to head off the pain.
- Consider taking birth control pills. If you are having severe pain from ovulation, you may want to talk to your doctor about going on the pill. Of course, this measure would only be appropriate if you are not trying to get pregnant. However, birth control pills can keep you from ovulating and thereby relieve the pain.