Pain during ovulation is normal and in fact has its own name.
Mittelschmerz, or pain during ovulation, is something one in every five women experience. Translated, this German word means “middle pain,” but the medical community often refers to it as mid cycle pain. This is a common occurrence and not a reason for alarm unless it is new or severe. Mittelschmerz is part of the process that moves the egg down into the uterus for fertilization.
About the Menstrual Cycle
The body stores a single egg inside a tiny sac, or follicle. Each month, the hormone estrogen triggers the thickening of the uterus to serve as a growth medium for the fertilized egg. During the second stage of the process, a follicle ruptures inside the ovary to release the egg, so it can move downward.
If a sperm fertilizes the egg, it implants into the lining of the uterus to grow. If not, it passes out of the body. The pain you feel during the ovulation cycle is associated with the follicle breaking open to release the egg.
Reasons for Pain
You may not experience mittelschmerz each month – the pain can be sporadic. The exact reason why some women feel this discomfort is unknown. Possible causes include:
Stretching of the follicle
Fluid from the open sac irritating the lining of the uterus
This pain differs from normal menstrual cramping, although it may feel similar. Cramping, or dysmenorrheal, occurs during your period. Mittelschmerz happens mid cycle, so halfway between two normal periods.
The discomfort occurs on the side of the active ovary. This means it will switch sides from month to month.
Pain on one side of the lower abdomen
Sharp and sudden stabbing
Slight spotting or vaginal discharge
There is no need for advanced medical treatment. If the discomfort is intense, taking an over the counter pain reliever such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen is helpful. A heating pad over the stomach may also help relieve the cramping.
The doctor may recommend you go on birth control if it becomes a chronic problem. Oral contraceptives prevent ovulation, so there would no rupturing of the follicle or mid cycle pain.
When to See a Doctor
Mittelschmerz is a normal part of ovulation and not a cause for concern. If the pain does not dissipate within a few days, there may be something else going on instead. Call your health care provider if the discomfort becomes severe or prolonged.
Spotting or an abnormal period warrants a trip to the doctor if it lasts longer than a few hours. On average, most pain lasts anywhere from a few minutes to a couple of hours tops – it should not go into several days.
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