Ovary pain during menopause is common for many women, from slight cramping to severe pain on one side. Here’s what’s going on and what you can do.
While some aches and pains are to be expected during menopause as the hormone levels in your body change, everyone’s experience of these is different.
And although ovary pain during menopause might be “normal”, there are still some conditions that every woman should know about, so they can spot the signs that a “twinge” might be something more.
So in this article, we’re shining a light on ovary pain during menopause, along with a full rundown of the best ways to manage ovarian pain at home.
Let’s start with some background info.
In this article: 📝
- What happens to your ovaries during menopause?
- Why do my ovaries hurt during menopause?
- Other possible reasons for ovarian pain during (or after) menopause
- Home remedies for ovarian pain during menopause
What happens to your ovaries during menopause?
Your ovaries produce your eggs, but they also have an important part to play in making the hormones that regulate your menstrual cycle.
So, it goes without saying that as this job slowly comes to an end, they’ll change a lot during the (on average) four to eight years of menopause that every woman undergoes.
Perimenopause vs menopause ovary pain
There’s also a difference between perimenopause and actual menopause.
Perimenopause is when your overall fertility starts to wind down, your periods become irregular, and your levels of estrogen and progesterone start to fluctuate a lot.
But you’re not officially “post-menopausal” until you haven’t had a period for 12 months or more.
Both can cause ovary pain, but some sources of pain might commonly start during perimenopause.
Why do my ovaries hurt during menopause?
There are a few reasons why your ovaries might be painful during menopause or perimenopause.
We’ll look at them one by one.
Before we jump in though, It’s important to define the difference here between acute and chronic ovary pain:
Acute pain is sudden and reasonably short-lived.
This doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s mild, though, so you don’t feel like you have to dismiss it.
Chronic pain hangs around, is difficult to shake off, and might be worse after certain activities.
Reasons for perimenopause ovary pain
Yes, that’s a (typically literal) German word for pain (Schmerz) in the middle (Mittel) of your menstrual cycle (i.e. the time when you ovulate).
This sharp, stabbing, often one-sided pain is a really common complaint – at least 40% of women experience it every month.
Even though your cycle will probably become a bit erratic during perimenopause, Mittelschmerz ovary pain might be a regular cause of acute pain for you.
It just might be a little less “Mittel” than you’ve ever experienced it before.
You might find that your periods during perimenopause are longer and heavier.
Even though your period is technically on its way out, there’s a chance your cramps will be more intense than at other times in your life.
But there is some good news: you can usually take pain relief to ease your cramps, like paracetamol, heat pads, or new technology like the OOVI pulse therapy kit, which or menopause community of Peanut love.
This one is related to cramping. Prostaglandins are the chemicals in your body that tell your uterus to contract.
You might have met them before if you’ve given birth and had labor induced.
Your natural prostaglandins are higher when your estrogen levels are high, and this sometimes happens without much warning when you’re heading towards menopause.
The result of this abrupt change? Acute ovary pain.
Other possible reasons for ovarian pain during (or after) menopause
If the pain in your ovaries tends more towards chronic (or at least, you experience frequent episodes of pain), there’s a chance there might be an underlying condition in play.
This would usually be diagnosed using an ultrasound or pelvic exam to make sure you get the right treatment to manage the symptoms.
If you’re noticing this frequently, it would be a good idea to check it with your medical provider.
Endometriosis means that the same tissue that should form the spongy lining of your uterus each month grows in other parts of your abdomen.
When it’s time to shed this tissue each month, it can lead to debilitatingly painful cramping, including in the area around your ovaries.
Endo is an under-diagnosed but really common condition.
It is thought to affect up to 11% of all women in the US. Many people are surprised to learn that it can start at any point in your life, not just in your earlier years.
So, if your cramping and pain around your ovaries is severe, ask your doctor if this is something that could be causing it.
Polycystic Ovary Syndrome
It can affect women from the age of about fifteen, but it’s fairly common to experience symptoms for the first time in your 30s and 40s, which might be the same time as early menopause.
A lot of PCOS symptoms overlap with menopause symptoms, but hot flashes, excess sweating, and vaginal dryness are strong indicators of menopause, not PCOS.
On the other hand, menopause doesn’t tend to cause acne or generalized pelvic pain, so if this is what you’re battling, PCOS might be a reasonable explanation.
An ovarian cyst
It’s quite common to develop a single ovarian cyst in perimenopause because they’re more common if an egg “ripens” but isn’t released.
A lot of the time, you might never know that you have one of these fluid-filled sacs in your ovary.
But if they get bigger they can make your period irregular or make you feel particularly bloated.
If they rupture (burst), it can cause severe pain in your side.
In some cases, a ruptured cyst needs to be treated in the hospital.
Pelvic Inflammatory Disease
PID is an infection in the ovaries, uterus, or fallopian tubes that can also cause ovary pain.
It can be treated with antibiotics, and you should notice an almost immediate improvement in your pain levels.
It’s never helpful to jump straight to assuming that ovarian pain is life-threatening, but since ovarian cancer is one of the most common cancers that affect women, and since it’s often very hard to diagnose until the later stages, knowing the signs can be life-saving.
As well as ovary pain, look for:
- Generalized pelvic pain
- Pain that’s worse after sex
- Feeling full very quickly when you’re eating
- The urgent need to pee
- Sudden weight loss or weight gain
A lot of these symptoms can also be associated with harmless perimenopause ovarian cysts, but it’s definitely worth talking to your doctor if you’re concerned in any way.
Home remedies for ovarian pain during menopause
If what you’re experiencing is a bad day of acute ovary pain, there are a lot of things you can do to make yourself feel better.
It helps to keep these tips in mind for your post-menopausal period too, because if you’re wondering can ovaries hurt after menopause? the answer is, unfortunately, yes.
- Over-the-counter pain relievers like ibuprofen and acetaminophen are a good first port of call.
- Gentle exercise or massage can increase blood flow and relieve your pain.
- A magnesium supplement could help to reduce regular cramping (but it’s best to ask your doctor first).
- Keeping the area warm with a hot bath or shower and a warm compress or heat lamp afterward can give you the fastest relief.
There are also some changes you can make to your diet that might improve your pain.
Reducing saturated fats and processed sugars can reduce the inflammation that makes the pain worse. Cutting down on alcohol can help to keep your hormone levels more stable.
And avoiding caffeine on the days when your pain is bad can also be helpful because caffeine constricts your blood vessels, which means that there’s less blood flowing to the painful areas.
Don’t forget, you can swap more tips and tricks for managing ovarian pain with the Peanut menopause community.