What is mittelschmerz?

Mittelschmerz is pain in the pelvis that some women have during ovulation. Ovulation usually occurs about halfway between menstrual cycles; hence the term mittelschmerz, which comes from the German words for "middle" and "pain."

The pain of mittelschmerz usually occurs in the lower abdomen and pelvis, either in the middle or to one side. The pain can range from a mild twinge to severe discomfort and usually lasts from minutes to hours. In some cases, a small amount of vaginal bleeding or discharge might occur. Some women have nausea, especially if the pain is very strong.

Who gets mittelschmerz?

Many women never have pain at ovulation. Some women, however, have mid-cycle pain every month, and can tell by the pain that they are ovulating.

What causes mittelschmerz?

As an egg develops in the ovary, it is surrounded by follicular fluid. During ovulation, the egg and the fluid, as well as some blood, are released from the ovary. While the exact cause of mittelschmerz is not known, it is believed to be caused by the normal enlargement of the egg in the ovary just before ovulation. Also, the pain could be caused by the normal bleeding that comes with ovulation.