Some women experience a sudden sharp pain that nearly doubles them over for a few minutes and then it disappears and life goes on as usual. Other women feel cramping, some pain and discomfort for a couple of days, then it goes away and life goes on. Some women experience intense pain and discomfort and need medical help. It all happens midway through their menstrual cycle. It is ovulation pain, or mittelschmerz, the German word for middle pain.
Ovulation pain is common and is not usually indicative of anything serious. However, sometimes ovulation pain is a signal that there is a problem that needs addressing, such as endometriosis. It is experience by about 50 percent of women at least once with 20 percent having ovulation pain every month, midway in their cycle. The duration of the pain can extend from just a few minutes to a couple of days - it varies from woman to woman. If the pain lasts longer than three days, it is a good idea to check in with the doctor to ensure there are no gynecological issues.
Symptoms of Ovulation Pain
There are a few distinct symptoms that come along with ovulation pain which distinguish it from other pains. Many women can identify the pain when it comes as being the time they ovulate and use that as a marker to determine conception, either way, avoiding it or conceiving a pregnancy. But, it isn't always the best way to determine ovulation. It is possible that some trapped gas could be mistaken for ovulation pain. Some of the symptoms of ovulation include:
· Lower abdominal pain, close to and inside the hip bone
· It usually comes midway between menstrual cycles, about two weeks before menstruation
· Depending upon which ovary releases the egg, the pain will be felt on the right side or left side or sometimes on one side alone for a few consecutive months
· The pain is inconsistent between women; some women feel intense pain, others cramps and still others a dull ache
· The pain lasts anywhere from a few minutes to 48 hours
No Direct Cause For The Pain
There does not seem to be one direct cause for ovulation pain, however, there are several theories as to what may be causing it. The ovaries, prompted by hormones, produce about 20 follicles, each with an immature egg (ovum) inside. Only one of the follicles will survive to maturity and as the follicle stretches the membrane of the ovary, it causes pain. It is also thought that when the follicle ruptures and the egg is released, the extra fluid that is contained in the follicle causes some irritation which can lead to a dull, achy feeling in the abdomen. Another theory is that when a woman feels a sharp pain it could indicate the egg has burst out of the follicle. This may also cause some slight bleeding, which often happens to women during ovulation. Additionally, the spasms of either the fallopian tubes or the uterus just prior to ovulation could potentially cause some form of discomfort.
When The Pain
Although most cases of ovulation pain are not serious and do not cause any harm, if the pain is severe and prolonged, or there is more general pain in the abdomen, it could point to a more serious condition.
· Salpingitis - the fallopian tubes become inflamed following an infection
· Appendicitis - sometimes the pain of appendicitis is confused with ovulation pain, especially if the pain is on the right side. If nausea and vomiting accompany pain on the right side emergency medical care may be required.
· Ectopic pregnancy - usually a pregnancy in one of the fallopian tubes producing cramping, bleeding and abdominal pain. Emergency medical help is necessary.
· PID - pelvic inflammatory disease is common following an infection and is also associated with STDs. It is usually chronic.
· Endometriosis - where the lining of the uterus grows in places outside of the uterus and causes adhesions and bleeding in the pelvic cavity during menstruation. Periods and sex are both very painful.
· Gastrointestinal issues - such as irritable bowel syndrome, a perforated ulcer or gastroenteritis.
· Ovulation Hyperstimulation Syndrome - happens when taking fertility drugs. It is the swelling of the uterus because of overstimulation by the increase in hormones.
Mittleschmerz is not the only indication of ovulation. Learn more about the various indicators and why knowing when you ovulate is important.