Ovulation Pains: Should I Be Concerned?

For most women of childbearing age, ovulation comes and goes without notice, especially if you are not concentrating on trying to achieve or avoid pregnancy.  Many women with regular menstrual cycles do not notice a change in their bodies or experience any side effects of ovulation. Thus the day their body releases an egg is just like any other day of the month.

However, some women do indeed experience ovulation pain, also referred to as “mittelschmerz” a German term that means “middle pain”.  As indicated by the name, it is usually felt in the pelvic area and can generally be addressed and treated with rest and over-the-counter pain relievers. However, in some cases, it may need to be investigated further.

First, let us examine it a bit more closely.

What do ovulation pains feel like?

Many women experience “period pain” or menstrual cramps and are pretty familiar with how they feel. In reality, ovulation pain feels similar to menstrual cramping, yet it will occur at a different time in your cycle. Whereas menstrual cramps generally occur before or at the beginning of your period, ovulation pains will happen about halfway through your cycle, approximately 2 weeks before your period is due.

An estimated 40 percent of menstruating women experience mittelschmerz, though most indicate that it is easily managed and does not impact their daily routine.

Why does ovulation pain happen?

A few reasons may explain why you may experience pain during ovulation.

  • During your cycle, an egg develops in one of your ovaries. As it grows, it is surrounded by follicular fluid. During ovulation, the egg and the fluid (and sometimes a small amount of blood) are released. It is believed that pain may occur at this point due to the swelling and distention of the follicle housing the egg just before ovulation.
  • When an egg is mature and ready to ovulate, it is released from its follicle as that follicle ruptures or bursts. The blood and fluid from the ruptured follicle can irritate the lining of the abdomen, causing pain that should subside after a short time.

Ovulation pain can range from just a few twinges to severe discomfort. However, most ovulation pains last only several minutes to a day.

When should I see my doctor?

If you are in the midst of fertility treatments or thinking of starting them and you are experiencing what might be ovulation pains, it is a good idea to mention the pain to your specialist. Similarly, they should be investigated if the pains are persistent and do not subside after a day. Your fertility specialist will want to rule out other possibilities, such as endometriosis or an ovarian cyst, as potential underlying causes. Tests for identifying and/or verifying that your pain is due to ovulation and not other causes can include sequential abdominal or vaginal ultrasounds.

If your doctor suspects a more significant etiology, he or she may order additional tests for confirmation.

Treating ovulation pains

In most cases, you will not require formal treatment for ovulation pains. The discomfort should go away within a day, and taking over-the-counter medications like ibuprofen or acetaminophen should help alleviate or eliminate it. You might also consider applying a heating pad to the area or simply taking a long, hot bath to relieve the pain.  Once again, if your ovulation pains are persistent, you should see your doctor rule out any additional problems.

The only way to truly eliminate ovulation pain is to eliminate ovulation. Of course, if you are trying to conceive, doing so with medications such as birth control pills is not a feasible option.   Therefore you may need to address and treat the discomfort for a while, looking forward to the time when worrying about ovulation is behind you and you are on your way to building a family of your own. At Advanced Reproductive Medicine, we can offer you a great deal of insight into how your body prepares for pregnancy. We will assist you in doing everything possible to help conception occur. We understand the emotional highs and lows that accompany fertility issues and are here to hold your hand through every step of the process toward achieving your dreams. For more information about our services and fertility experts, schedule a consultation, or call us at 732-339-9300.

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