Ovulation Pain Explained

While not affecting all women, ovulation pain, also known as Mittelschmerz (meaning middle pain in German) affects many women during their menstrual cycles. Read on to find out the symptoms and causes of ovulation pain, as well as why knowing your menstrual cycle is key to understanding your fertility.

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Symptoms of ovulation pain

During ovulation, if you feel a one-sided pain in your lower abdomen you may be experiencing ovulation pain. Pain can be either sharp or dull and can change sides of your abdomen each cycle, depending on which ovary is going to release an egg. Mittelschmerz can last only for a few minutes, or it might even be painful for a couple of days – depending on the person. It’s also normal to experience spotting around ovulation, this is different from menstrual bleeding.

What causes ovulation pain?

We are not sure of the exact cause of ovulation pain. However, it’s widely believed that this is caused by a small amount of fluid (or sometimes blood) which is released at the same time that the female egg cell is released from the ovary. This fluid causes irritation of nerves which in turn causes ovulation pain. 

In some cases there might be other factors contributing to ovulation pain. Endometriosis is a condition which can cause inflation of the ovaries and fallopian tubes which can also lead to ovulation pain. Scar tissue after surgery can also cause ovulation pain. In some cases sexually transmitted infections (STIs) can also cause inflammation and scarring. For many women, ovulation pain is a healthy part of the menstrual cycle, but if your pain is severe or you have any concerns, it’s always a good idea to speak to a healthcare professional. 

Treating ovulation pain

While some pain may be mild enough to be soothed with pain killers and a hot compress, other sufferers of ovulation pain may find symptoms more severe. We always recommend you speak to your doctor or gynecologist if you find ovulation pain or indeed menstrual cramps are interfering in your everyday life. 

Some birth control options work by suppressing ovulation and these hormonal methods might work as a solution for some women. However, not everyone is suited to the side effects of hormonal contraception, so non-hormonal birth control methods, alongside managing ovulation pain, may offer another solution for those wanting to avoid hormones.

How can I be sure if I am feeling ovulation pain?

It’s hard to be completely certain that the pain you feel is down to ovulation since there are so many things to consider and all our bodies and cycles are unique. However, understanding your cycle is a great way to get to know your body better. Natural Cycles finds your ovulation and can work out your fertile window. If you experience the symptoms of ovulation pain around the time of your predicted ovulation, then it’s very likely that you are actually feeling the effects of the release of an egg cell. 

With ovulation identified by the app you’ll become more aware of the signs and symptoms which happen throughout your menstrual cycle. On top of this you’ll know when you are fertile which is key to planning a pregnancy or preventing one. 

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Written By

Jennifer Gray

A writer with a passion for women’s health, Jennifer Gray has years of experience writing about various reproductive health topics including birth control, planning pregnancy, women’s anatomy, and so much more.

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Scientifically Reviewed

Jack Pearson

With 10 years of experience working in the field of fertility, Jack Pearson is Natural Cycles’ in-house expert. As Medical Affairs Manager, he dedicates his time to conducting groundbreaking research and educating healthcare professionals.