Do you know how to recognize ovulatory pain?
The ovum is released around 14 days before you menstruate, regardless of the length of your cycle. Ovulatory pain is sometimes called Mittelschmerz, which is German for “pain in the middle” (of the cycle). When it’s painful, ovulation hurts in the lower abdomen and on only one side, cropping up either on the right or left side depending on which ovary released an ovum during that cycle.
The alternation between sides is completely random and unpredictable. The intensity of the pain varies enormously from one woman to another and ranges from a pinching feeling to pain that lasts around two days. It’s sometimes accompanied by light vaginal bleeding and nausea.
Where does the pain come from?
The exact cause is still unknown, but a number of explanations have been posited:
- When the ovum develops in the ovary, it’s surrounded by fluid and blood, which are released with the ovum, so it’s possible that they irritate the abdominal wall.
- Just before ovulation, the growing follicle puts pressure on the ovary wall, causing pain.
If the pain is intense or worsens suddenly, it’s best to consult a doctor. Ovulatory pain can be amplified by other medical conditions such as endometriosis or ovarian cysts. The pain is sometimes mistaken for an appendicitis attack.
How can you recognize it?
First, keep in mind that you should always mark the first day of your period on a calendar. With this information, you can predict the date of your next period, identify PMS symptoms, know when you got pregnant, if applicable, and determine the date of your next ovulation.
Given that it occurs 14 days before you menstruate, regardless of the length of your cycle, you will have to count backwards from then. If you write down the date you felt that kind of pain, it will be easy to figure out when you ovulated. Repeat the calculation over a number of cycles to confirm your findings.
How to treat it
Because it’s a transitory pain and is often light to moderate, most women simply grin and bear it until it goes away.
- Stress can have an impact on hormones and ovulation pain, so a hot shower or bath can help you relax.
- Placing a hot water bottle on your lower abdomen is also a simple and effective solution that helps activate blood flow and relaxes the muscles in the painful area.
- If the pain is intense, you can take devil’s claw, a plant with anti-inflammatory properties.
A hand-up from your body?
Oddly, most women under 30 don’t experience ovulation pain. Might that pain increase as you approach the end of your fertile years? Maybe. In fact, simply feeling ovulation pain can be a good thing when you’re trying to get pregnant—it’s your body’s way of telling you that it’s a good time to conceive.