Ovulation cramps during the middle of your menstrual cycle (mid-cycle pain or mittelschmerz) can be a painful and confusing problem for women trying to conceive.
Mittelschmerz occurs when you ovulate, the egg is released from the ovary, and it travels into the fallopian tube. It can last anywhere from a few minutes to a few hours, causing pain in the lower abdomen.
The pain can range from just an annoying twinge to something that makes you double over in pain. Sometimes, the pain can be on one side of your abdomen and sometimes on both sides.
Today we will be discussing why you might have ovulation pain, the possible causes of mid-cycle pain, and how you can treat it.
What Are Cramps and Why Cramping Happen?
Cramps are a sudden, sharp pain caused by the uterus contracting. The two muscles in the uterus, the inner and outer muscles, contract when you have a cramp. The uterus is a pear-shaped organ that lies at the bottom of the pelvic cavity between the bladder and rectum.
Cramps can happen at any point in your menstrual cycle, often starting before or during your period, but they can also happen mid-cycle. Mid-cycle cramps are typically more painful and noticeable than menstrual cramps.
Cramps happen for several reasons:
- Your uterus is growing and stretching.
- During ovulation, the egg’s follicle ruptures, creating some inflammation in the pelvic cavity.
- The cervix opens during ovulation and closes after ovulation.
- Your uterus lining builds up and sheds.
In addition to these reasons, ovulation cramps can also be caused by many different medical issues.
Symptoms of Ovulation Cramps
Several symptoms may indicate that you are having ovulation pain. These include:
- Pelvic pain
- Pain that is sudden and sharp
- Moderate to severe pain that may last for 10-20 minutes
- Mid-cycle pain that is more intense than menstrual cramps
- Pain on one side of your abdomen
- Severe abdominal pain that causes you to double over in pain
- More painful than other menstrual cramps
- Pain on both sides of your abdomen (called bilateral pain)
Other symptoms may include:
- urinary urgency (having to go to the bathroom)
- food cravings
- mood swings (changing emotions)
- light vaginal bleeding (spotting)
Causes of Ovulation Cramps
The exact cause of ovulation cramps is unknown, but some factors may increase the chances of experiencing cramping.
Some possible causes include:
- Ovulation fluid buildup in fallopian tubes
- Not wholly emptying the uterus during menstruation
- Not ovulating regularly
- Hormonal changes during menstruation
- Rubbing the uterus (this is called secondary dysmenorrhea)
Ovulation Cramps vs. Implantation Cramps
Ovulation cramps and implantation cramps both cause pain in the abdomen during a woman’s menstrual cycle, but there are differences between them.
Ovulation cramps take place when the ovarian follicle ruptures, releasing the egg.
Implantation cramping takes place when an embryo implants in the uterus lining.
Cramps during ovulation are typically centered on the pelvic area and lower abdomen, while implantation cramping spreads across your lower abdomen to your back.
Additionally, Ovulation Cramps may be accompanied by ovarian cysts and ovarian cancer, while implantation cramps are not.
Home Remedies to Prevent Ovulation Pain
The following are some home remedies to stop ovulation pain:
- Drink lots of fluids and stay hydrated
- Take a warm bath or sitz bath (using shallow water around the pelvis to reduce pain)
- Eat bland foods such as whole-grain cereals and bread, bananas, rice, applesauce, and yogurt
- Apply a heating pad or a warm compress to the abdomen
- Use nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications such as ibuprofen and naproxen
- Stretch and do yoga
- Apply a muscle relaxant such as magnesium sulfate lotion, cream, or gel
When to See a Doctor for Mittelschmerz (Middle Pain)
If you have painful ovulation pain that is not relieved with home remedies or lasts more than a few days, you may need to see a doctor.
Also, if these symptoms accompany your ovulating pain, you should see a doctor:
- pain on one side of your abdomen only (not both sides)
- pain in the lower part of your abdomen
- very heavy bleeding or bleeding that lasts longer than usual
- fever or chills, which may indicate an infection
- yellowing of the skin and eyes (jaundice)
- dizziness or fainting
Related Questions about Ovulation Cramps:
Is It Normal to Have Severe Pain During Ovulation?
Ovulation cramps will not be severe unless you have PMS along with them. If you are getting severe ovulation pain, this could indicate a condition called endometriosis. In this condition, tissue from the lining of the uterus grows outside the uterine cavity.
Can I Have Cramps Without Ovulating?
Most women do not experience cramping without ovulating. However, if you have a medical condition that causes your uterus to contract or you take certain medications, you may experience cramping unrelated to ovulation.
How Long Does Ovulation Cramps Last?
Cramping during ovulation usually lasts for up to 24 hours. However, if you are not ovulating regularly or have uterine scarring (from conditions such as endometriosis), the cramping may last longer.
Where Do You Feel Ovulation Cramps?
Ovulation cramps are usually mid-abdominal (occurring in the lower abdomen) or low abdominal pains. However, if you have endometriosis, uterine scarring, or pelvic inflammatory disease (PID), ovulating cramps may be felt in your lower back or thighs.
What Do Cramps During Ovulation Mean?
Cramps during ovulation mean that you are ovulating. The cramping pain occurs as a result of fluid buildup in the fallopian tubes.
When Should I Call My Doctor About Cramps During Ovulation?
If your ovulating pain is so severe that it makes it difficult for you to function or if you have other symptoms such as fever, chills, or yellowing of the skin and eyes (jaundice), you should call your doctor.
If you are experiencing ovulation cramps along with severe pain on one side of the abdomen only (not both sides) or lower abdominal pain, this may indicate an infection. You should also contact your doctor if this is the case.
Ovulation cramps are normal, but they may be more severe for some women. If you do not have ovulation pain or it does not end when ovulation is over, this could indicate a medical problem. It is essential to contact your doctor if you experience ovulation pain with other symptoms such as fever, chills, or yellowing of the skin and eyes.