Some women get a one-sided pain in their lower abdomen when they ovulate.

This happens about 14 days before your period, when an ovary releases an egg as part of the menstrual cycle.

It is also known as mittelschmerz (German for “middle pain” or “pain in the middle of the month”).

Ovulation pain is often normal and just another side effect associated with menstruation.

Symptoms of ovulation pain

The pain can be a dull cramp or a sharp and sudden stab.

It is usually on the left or right side of your abdomen, depending on which ovary is releasing the egg.

It may only last a few minutes or continue for a day or 2. Some women notice some vaginal bleeding when this happens.

When to see your doctor

See your GP if the pain is severe or you are concerned.

It is a good idea to keep a diary before your visit. Let the doctor know exactly when during your menstrual cycle the pain occurs and how long it lasts.

Treatments for painful ovulation

Painful ovulation can usually be relieved by simple remedies such as soaking in a warm bath or taking an over-the-counter pain reliever such as paracetamol.

Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as ibuprofen can also help, but you should not take them if you are trying to conceive, as they can interfere with ovulation.

If you feel very uncomfortable, talk to your GP about other treatment options.

Birth control methods that stop ovulation, such as the contraceptive pill or contraceptive implant, can completely eliminate ovulation pain.

Is ovulation pain something to worry about?

Painful ovulation is quite common and usually harmless. But it can sometimes be a symptom of an underlying medical condition.

Some of the underlying causes can lead to fertility problems that can prevent you from getting pregnant:

  • endometriosis – an inflammatory disease affecting the ovaries and fallopian tubes which can also cause pain during ovulation
  • scar tissue – if you have had surgery (for example a caesarean section or your appendix out), scar tissue can cause ovulation pain by restricting the ovaries and surrounding structures
  • sexually transmitted infections (STIs) – STIs such as chlamydia can cause inflammation and scarring around the fallopian tubes, leading to ovulation pain

Why does ovulation pain happen?

No one is sure, but one theory is that ovulation pain is the egg breaking through the ovarian wall, releasing a small amount of fluid (or sometimes a small amount of blood) that irritates nearby nerves.

Page last revised: 02 August 2019
Next review is due 02 August 2022

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