The phase of the menstrual cycle experienced by females which is related to the release of the ovum or egg from an ovary is known as ovulation. Generally, it has been seen that the ovulation period for every woman comes roughly in 28 days. Therefore, women face ovulation approximately once a month. The cycle continues for each woman unless the menstrual cycle comes to an end by the menopause. Other than this, the only time when a woman will not undergo ovulation is either when they are pregnant or when they are breastfeeding.
About 20 percent of women have reported that the ovulation period has caused them with discomfort and pain. The pain duration and the intensity of the ovulation pain are not fixed. Some women have reported that the ovulation pain has lasted for only a few minutes, while for others, it has been for a few days.
So, is ovulation pain normal? The answer is yes. There is absolutely nothing wrong with the body if you are experiencing pain during ovulation. Mild and sharp cramps generally do not mean anything. However, if the pain is intense, and it lasts for prolonged periods, there may be other complications. There are various other gynecological conditions which can cause such pains. Among all the causes, endometriosis is the most common reason.
Symptoms and Causes of Ovulation Pain
It is recommended to go and see a doctor if the ovulation pain stays for a period lasting longer than three days or so. If any new and abnormal symptoms are noticed, such as excessive bleeding, then also visiting a doctor is the right thing to do. Another term used to indicate ovulation pain is mid-cycle pain. In German, ovulation pain is often referred to as mittelschmerz, which translates to ‘middle pain’ literally.
Ovulation Pain Symptoms
Various women have reported experiencing different types of ovulation pain symptoms. Even though the symptoms vary slightly from person to person, there are some significant symptoms of ovulation pain that are experienced by the majority of women. Some of these common symptoms are given below.
- Having pain in the lower part of the abdomen, mainly on the inside of the hip bone
- Pain that generally starts in a time gap of two weeks or so before the start of the menstrual period
- Pain that is felt in any one side of the pelvis, either left or right which depends on the side from which the ovary is releasing the egg
- Pain in the pelvis which changes side alternatively in each cycle, or is felt in one side for only a few cycles
- Exploring a different type of sensation than normal ovulation pain. This can vary from person to person. The primary feelings are cramps, sharp and sudden aches, twinges or pressure which is uncomfortable to deal with
- The pain of duration varying from a period of a few minutes to a few days
Ovulation Pain – What are the Causes?
As of present, it is not yet clear what is the exact cause of the ovulation pain. However, there are many strong theories that are likely to pinpoint possible causes. Some of the widely accepted theories are given below.
- Emergence of Follicle
Due to the working of the hormones, the ovaries generally produce 20 follicles or more. Every follicle that is produced comes with the ovum or the egg, which is not yet matured at that point. Despite producing 20 follicles or more, by the time of maturity, only one follicle survives. The ovulation pain that is felt may be due to be the fact that the follicle expands, which in turn stretches the ovary membrane, causing the pain.
- Rupture of Follicle
With time, the egg becomes fully mature. When this happens, it is usually followed by the egg bursting out from the follicle. This is natural and generates mild bleeding. Additionally, extra fluids may also come out due to this bursting. The peritoneum, which is the abdominal lining, is very sensitive. When it comes in contact with the fluid or blood that has come out with the rupture of the follicle, it can get irritated. This, in turn, can cause ovulation pain to be triggered.
Ovulation Pain – How Normal is it, and what are the Underlying Medical Problems?
The most common question asked in this context is that it is ovulation pain normal or not. As stated previously, it is normal. The pain may be sharp and sudden, but generally, it has been found that no harm occurs from the ovulation pain. This does not mean that extreme and prolonged pains should be left unchecked. If the cause of the pain is not ovulation, but it is due to some other medical condition, then it should be immediately treated.
Many underlying medical problems can also cause severe pains during the ovulation period, which many women mistake as ovulation pain. The overview of some of these problems is given below.
- Salpingitis – Due to an infection, the fallopian tubes get inflamed, thus causing the pain.
- Chronic pelvic inflammatory disease – Here, the pain is caused mainly due to the inflammation which has happened due to an infection.
- Endometriosis – Endometrium or the lining of the womb starts growing in this condition. The growth generally takes place in different locations like bowels. This, in turn, causes great pain. The periods turn more painful than usual, and being sexually active can be equally painful.
- Ovarian cyst – this is caused mainly due to the accumulation of the fluid in an abnormal pocket. It develops in ovary and causes pain.
- Ectopic pregnancy – In this case, the pregnancy is mainly developed in the outside. Instead of growing in the womb, the pregnancy is formed in any of the fallopian tubes. This is a very serious condition and can cause immense abdominal pain, excessive cramping, and continuous bleeding of the vagina. Immediate medical help and treatment are highly recommended.
- Appendicitis – One of the most common confusion of the ovulation pain is with the inflammation of the appendix, or otherwise known as appendicitis. In case you are experiencing the pain in the lower right abdomen along with a feeling of nausea and a lot of vomiting, getting medical help is urgently required.
- Different gastrointestinal problems – Many other gastrointestinal issues can cause the pain too. Some of these problems include gastroenteritis, perforated ulcer, and diseases related to the inflammation of the bowel.
Ovulation Pain – Proper Diagnosis
Apart from the ovulation pain symptoms, which can be used to determine the time and nature of the pains, there are other tests available as well. There are different tests that can determine if the ovulation pain is due to a disease or an infection, or if it is entirely harmless. Some of these tests are given below.
- Checking the medical history
- Taking a physical examination, which may include the internal pelvic examination
- Doing blood tests
- Doing cervical cultures
- Doing abdominal ultrasound test
- Doing a vaginal ultrasound test
- Performing exploratory surgery, which mainly includes laparoscopy or the ‘keyhole’ surgery
Ovulation Pain – How to Take Good Care Of Yourself
Consultations with a doctor are must make sure the nature of the ovulation pain. It is essential to find out whether ovulation pain merely is just happening usually, or various underlying medical conditions are causing it. To take good self-care while trying to deal with the ovulation pain, given below are some suggestions.
- Relaxation is a must. When the ovulation pain feels too much, or if it stays for a long time, you can lay down on the bed. The rest can help you cope with the pain.
- You can also use different medications that are aimed to relieve the ovulation pain.
- You can try to provide warmth in the lower abdominal part. The use of warm baths, hot water bottles, or heat packs can be used.
- Taking medicines with an anti-inflammatory nature can prove to be hugely beneficial while dealing with ovulation pains in some cases. However, recommendations of pharmacists or doctors are required before taking such medicines.
- Birth control pills and various other forms of hormonal contraceptives can also work to reduce ovulation pain. This is because these pills are mainly functioned to stop the ovulation process. This is a good option, but should only be taken after discussion with a doctor.
- In case if you are experiencing ovulation pain for more than three days or so, the cause of the pain is likely something else. In such cases, visiting a doctor is a must. You can also visit the doctor if you get any abnormal symptoms during ovulation which may include excessive discharge or too much bleeding.
Family Planning and Ovulation Pain
A woman is very much likely to get pregnant if she is involved in unprotected sexual activity during the days of ovulation. Thus includes a few days before and a few days after ovulation as well. While planning a family, a lot of women rely on the duration and the occurrence of the ovulation pain to time the pregnancy successfully.
On the other hand, many women also rely on ovulation pain to time sexual activity to avoid pregnancy. However, this is not entirely accurate or reliable. Hence, other contraception methods should be used to nullify any chance of pregnancy while indulging in sexual activities.
Such family planning methods and techniques are available in detail at different family planning centers, in various health clinics and from gynecologists as well.
Ovulation Pain – What Does It Mean?
As previously stated, the ovulation pain varies from women to women. One of the ordinary experiences faced by a small percentage of women is that the pain comes in a sudden and sharp pang, and then it goes away. This happens during the time of ovulation, and for a lot of women, this is the only form of ovulation pain that they feel. This pain is mainly known as mittelschmerz pain, and it is normal. There are, however, lots of different abdominal pains which can be easily confused with the ovulation pain. Therefore, getting treatment for pains which shows pelvic pain symptoms is recommended.
When the follicle present in the ovary gets ruptured during ovulation, an egg is released. The transportation of the egg follows it to the uterus via the fallopian tubes. With the ovulation pain duration ranging from a few minutes to a few days, the most common cause which is considered for the pain is the follicle rupture or swelling. A lot of women have reported that they felt ovulation pain while being in the middle of the cycle. Others have said that the ovulation pain is mainly felt in only one pelvic side. It has been found out that the ovulation pain is normal, and it does not affect the body in any way. However, the exact cause, occurrence, and the frequency of ovulation pain have not yet been recognized.
The signs and symptoms which are directly related to the ovulation pain have already been discussed in this article previously. There are many symptoms, some of which are particular to certain women only. With these symptoms, women can identify their ovulation period and hence can mentally and physically prepare for it.
However, there are various other causes of ovulation, and there are different symptoms to identify these different causes as well. Some of the significant signs of the pains which are not related to ovulation are given below.
- Pain which occurs in both the abdominal or pelvic sides of the body
- Pain that gets worse with time
- Pain occurring for prolonged periods
- Pain associated with the bleeding from the vagina
- Pain which is followed by an injury
- Any occurrence of bloating or swelling
- Having a nauseous feeling, vomiting too much or getting affected with diarrhea
- Pain associated with urination
- Pain associated with sexual activities
Pelvic Pain – Other Causes
The probable causes for the ovulation pain have already been discussed previously. Here we will see about the other causes of the pelvic pains. The most common reasons are provided below.
- Pelvic Relaxation Syndromes
Pelvic relaxation syndrome is a pretty common condition in older women and the women who have recently given birth. This pain is mainly caused by the weakening of the muscles which are located in the pelvic region. As a result, chronic pains may be triggered, which can initiate stomach and back pains as well.
- Urinary Disorders
The urinary disorders are mainly related to the infection of the urinary tract. This, in turn, can directly affect the kidneys, bladder, and urethra. As a result, the process of urination can turn out to be painful as well. Additionally, urine may also contain blood, and the patient may also suffer from back pains and fevers. The main symptom of urinary tract infection is when the pain associated with urination occurs in the lower part of the stomach.
The endometriosis occurs when the endometrium or the tissue which lines the uterus starts occurring in other parts of the body as well. The pelvic pain due to endometriosis can be very intense and can last for an extended period. Women who undergo endometriosis face severe menstrual cramps which can affect their daily life and activities as well. The pain occurring due to endometriosis is very irregular and can happen anytime.
- Menstrual Cramps
Menstrual cramps are the cramps experienced by women right before the period, or when the period is going on. This is one of the most confusing causes of the pain which most women mistake as ovulation pain. Most women experience menstrual cramps in some time or the other. Generally, such cramps are of mild nature and can be ignored. If the pains are intense, and if they stay for an extended period, then visiting a doctor for treatment is recommended.
Constipation is the condition where the excretions of the body through the intestines generally get disrupted. This, in turn, causes different sensations in the body, some of which can be painful as well. The pain is mainly experienced in the bowels, as constipation hinders the bowel movements of the patient. With chronic constipation, bowel pains and pelvic pains may get triggered.
As previously stated, the condition of appendicitis is hazardous, and it occurs when the appendix gets inflamed due to infections. This is an emergency medical case and needs to be treated appropriately. Initially, the pain of appendicitis starts from the middle part of the stomach and can occur for small durations. With time, the pain shifts to the right side of the lower abdomen. Gradually, the pain becomes very intense and almost unbearable. Treatment of appendicitis is a must, and doctors should be contacted immediately.
- Ectopic Pregnancy
Normally, the implantation of the fertilized egg takes place in the womb. When it does not happen inside the womb, but rather the implantation takes place in say, the fallopian tubes, this condition is known as the ectopic pregnancy. This is also a medical emergency, where the fertilized egg needs to be removed as early as possible. If no treatment is done, the fallopian tube is most likely to get ruptured. This can be fatal and can affect the fertility of the woman as well. The symptoms of ectopic pregnancy are mainly when the pain is felt on only one side of the body and occurring much late in the cycle. With the development of fever or an increase in pain severity, doctors should be visited immediately.
- Ovarian Torsion or Ovarian Cyst Rupture
The ovarian cysts generally heal with time and do not pose many issues. However, at times, they are known to damage or rupture the ovary. If the ovary somehow twists itself around the fallopian tubes, ovarian torsion occurs. Excessive bleeding is caused by it, and it ends up with the death if the ovary. Such conditions can happen during the menstrual cycle, and the pain is too intense to bear. Therefore, immediate treatment is required.
- Gastrointestinal Problems
Some women also get confused with the pelvic pains and stomach pains. Even the problems which are related to the intestines and stomach can conjure up pains on one part of the body. Gastrointestinal issues, such as problems with liver, pancreas or diverticulitis, often cause this. Intestine infections can cause such pains as well. There are various symptoms of identifying gastrointestinal problems. Some of them are constipation, diarrhea, change in the stool color, and bloating.
Right Time to See a Doctor
During ovulation pain or pelvic pain, a doctor should be visited immediately when-
- Pain becomes intense and affects the daily lifestyle
- Pain occurs in a different time than the cycle and stays for long periods
- Heavy bleeding is associated with the pain
- Heavy fever associated with painful urination
Patients should go for emergency treatment if-
- The intensity of the pain becomes too much
- Pain is experienced by pregnant women or to be pregnant women
- Pain associated with injuries on pelvic organs
Ovulation Pain – Home Remedies
Generally, the intensity of the ovulation pain is mild, and no treatment is required. However, if the pain becomes slightly intense, you can follow some of the home remedies given below.
- NSAID or a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug. Drugs like ibuprofen fall under this category and if taken before ovulation, can reduce the pain.
- Stretching can be carried out gently. This causes the muscles to get relieved, and thus the pains become less intensified.
- Hot packs can be applied to the affected area for half an hour or so. This can ease the pain.
All of these remedies are for those who are suffering mild ovulation pain. If the cause of the pain is different, other treatment methods should be followed. In any such case, visiting the doctor is the best option.
The occurrence of ovulation pain is normal, and there is nothing to worry about it. However, if you are confused about the cause of the pain, you can always visit a doctor. This way, either you will get reassured, or the doctors will be able to diagnose other causes and provide treatment accordingly.