What are the Most Common Causes of Ovulation Pain?

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  • Written By: Autumn Rivers
  • Edited By: Andrew Jones
  • Last Modified Date: 15 January 2019
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Many women can tell when they are ovulating due to various symptoms, one of them being ovulation pain. This is usually described as cramping or sharp twinges in the lower abdominal area, either on one or both sides, about two weeks after menstruation. Some women even feel nauseated and experience light spotting along with the pain. The cramping is referred to as mittelschmerz, which is German for "middle pain," and it can last anywhere from six hours to two days. The exact cause is unknown, but some of the possibilities include follicular swelling, the egg's rupture from the ovary, muscle contraction, or medical conditions.

Before ovulation occurs, the follicles that are present in the ovaries begin to swell. Despite the fact that just one to two eggs are released at one time during this process, several follicles grow and swell up, which may explain the pain that some women feel. If this process is in fact the reason for painful ovulation, it might explain why a fraction of females feel the pain on both sides of the abdomen instead of just one.


There is some evidence to support the assumption that ovulation pain is caused by the rupture of the egg from the ovary. Since there are no openings in the ovaries, the egg literally breaks out through the ovarian wall, which may result in pain. Women who agree with this theory may decide that intercourse is best while they feel the pain, since the egg often lives for 24 hours after being released.

Some medical research shows that contractions may be to blame for the ovulation pain that some women feel. For example, just after ovulation, the fallopian tubes are known to contract, which could be painful. Additionally, the luteinizing hormone released just before ovulation can cause contractions in the ovaries, which can result in some discomfort.

While pain during ovulation could be considered normal for some women, certain medical conditions are known to cause this kind of pain, as well. PCOS occurs when painful cysts develop on the ovaries, eventually causing the woman not to ovulate regularly. Ovulation pain could also be a sign of fibroids on the ovaries, which can cause both discomfort and eventual fertility problems. Therefore, sudden pain around ovulation should be discussed with a doctor during an annual exam so that tests can be run to ensure that the discomfort is not related to a medical condition.


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Post 8

@lighth0se33 – Wow, that's intense! I knew a girl who had to miss school once a month for her pain, so I know that it can get bad, but I didn't know that it could mimic the pain of appendicitis!

I guess I'm fortunate, because my ovulation pain is only mild. I take acetaminophen if it gets on my nerves, and that clears it up.

Post 7

Some people even have middle abdomen pain during ovulation. The pain just seems to go everywhere, and it's hard to tell where it's coming from. I even knew a woman who thought she was having appendicitis because the pain was so bad, so some people definitely have it worse than others.

Post 6

I just recently started experiencing middle pain during ovulation. I've never had this before the last few months, and when it started happening, a friend of mine recognized the symptoms.

However, it seems like having sudden pain during ovulation can mean something else is wrong. I have my annual coming up in about a month, and I'm definitely going to bring this up with my doctor.

Post 5

It's interesting to me that some women plan intercourse for when they're having ovulation pain. I guess it makes sense if you're trying to get pregnant. However, if not, I can't imagine wanting to have intercourse when I'm having pain in my ovary after ovulation.

Post 4

@orangey03 – I think it's normal for your lower abdominal pain during ovulation to vary from month to month. I know that mine does.

Sometimes, I get sharp pains that feel like being stabbed with a knife. These only last a few seconds, but I get them continuously throughout the day.

At other times, I just have a dull ache down there. It's like one constant mild cramp, and it puts a damper on my whole day.

I'd rather have the sharp pains than the dull ache. At least with them, I get a little bit of a break between pains.

Post 3

@indemnifyme - I can't remember when I first started having pain around ovulation, but mine isn't that severe so I didn't go to the doctor right off the bat. I happened to mention to my gynecologist that I was having pain in that area when I wasn't on my period, and she told me it was probably ovulation.

I started keeping track, and I realized she was right. Obviously I don't enjoy having pain when I ovulate, but it is pretty convenient. I always know when I'm ovulating without even having to check the calendar.

Post 2

I've experienced pains like this before, but they come and go. I've had no ovulation pain this month, but last month, I could hardly concentrate on anything else because the pain was so intense.

Is it normal to have pain one month and not have it during others? Do most people who experience ovulation pain have it every month?

Post 1

I've been having ovulation pain symptoms since I was a teenager. In fact, the first time it happened to me, my mom took me to the doctor because the pain was so random and I'd never experienced anything like it before.

After asking me where I was in my menstrual cycle and doing an exam, my doctor determined that I was having pain because of ovulation. Now, I generally get pain when I ovulate every single month, although some months are worse than others.

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