What is ovulation pain?

Ovulation pain is pelvic pain that some women have during ovulation. Ovulation is the part of the menstrual cycle when an ovary releases an egg. Ovulation usually happens about halfway between your periods.

Ovulation pain is also called “mittelschmerz.” The term comes from the German words for “middle” and “pain.”

Where does ovulation pain occur?

You typically feel the pain in your lower abdomen and pelvis, in the middle or on one side. You may feel it on the side where the ovary is releasing an egg. (For most people, the ovaries take turns ovulating. Each ovary releases an egg every other month.)

So if the ovary on the right side is releasing the egg, that’s where you’ll feel the pain. Some people find that the pain switches sides from one cycle to the next.

Who gets ovulation pain?

Many women never have pain at ovulation. Others have midcycle pain every month. They can often tell by the pain that they are ovulating.

Is ovulation pain the same as period pain?

Ovulation pain may feel similar to period pain — like a cramp. But ovulation pain happens about two weeks before you get your period.

How common is ovulation pain?

Mittelschmerz may affect more than 40% of women who ovulate during their reproductive years — and it can affect them almost every month.

What causes ovulation pain?

The egg develops in the ovary. As it grows, follicular fluid surrounds it. During ovulation, the ovary releases the egg and fluid, along with some blood. Mittelschmerz may happen because of the egg enlarging in the ovary just before ovulation.

The pain may also be due to a ruptured follicle. The egg bursts from the follicle when it’s ready. The burst may cause some bleeding. The blood and fluid from the ruptured follicle may irritate the lining of the abdomen (peritoneum), causing pain.

This is a normal part of the menstrual cycle.

What are the symptoms of ovulation pain?

The pain may feel like a mild twinge, or you might have severe discomfort. It often hurts on just one side. The pain can last from a few minutes to a few hours. You may also experience:

Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 11/24/2020.

References

  • Brott NR, Le JK. Mittelschmerz. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2020. Accessed 11/24/2020.
  • Better Health Channel. (Department of Health & Human Services, State Government of Victoria, Australia). Ovulation Pain. Accessed 11/24/2020.
  • Merck Manual. Pelvic Pain. Accessed 11/24/2020.
  • NHS. Ovulation Pain. Accessed 11/24/2020.

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