Wondering if you’re experiencing ovulation cramps? Let’s break it down.
Ovulation cramps can affect around 20% of all people with ovaries, and is one of the many signs that you could be ovulating.
If you’re TTC (or decidedly not TTC), it can be useful to know when you’re ovulating so you can plan when’s best to get under the sheets (or not).
And ovulation cramps can help indicate when you’re ovulating!
We had a chat with embryologist and fertility expert, Navya Muralidhar, to find out when ovulation cramps happen, what they feel like, and what you can do to relieve the pain.
In this article: 📝
- When do ovulation cramps start?
- How long do you cramp during ovulation?
- Ovulation cramps vs implantation cramps
- What do ovulation cramps feel like?
- Other signs of ovulation
- Are ovulation cramps a sign of fertility?
- Why does ovulation cause cramps?
- How to relieve ovulation cramps
- What if it’s not ovulation cramps?
When do ovulation cramps start?
The first thing to know about ovulation cramps is that they may not occur exactly when you’re ovulating.
This means that you can get ovulation cramps before or after an egg is released from your ovaries. Or even during!
So if you’re wondering do you cramp after ovulation?, the answer is… usually!
Generally, this ovulation cramping occurs around the middle of your cycle, but it can vary from person to person and from month to month.
Of the 1 in 5 people with ovaries who experience ovulation cramping, they can have cramps during ovulation week ‒ at any time in their fertile window.
If your pain occurs around day 14 of your cycle, then it’s probably ovulation cramps.
It’s one of many ovulation signs to look for: increased cervical mucus, breast tenderness, increased libido, spotting or light bleeding, increased basal body temperature (this is after ovulation), bloating, and cramps during ovulation.
But if you’re having cramps 2 days after ovulation, don’t fret, that’s totally normal.
Is it normal to have cramps during ovulation?
It can be!
The numbers aren’t exact, but somewhere around 20% of people with ovaries experience ovulation cramps.
These can be cramps after ovulation, during, or just before.
Can you get cramping 2 days after ovulation?
Yes, cramping 2 days after ovulation is common for people who experience ovulation cramps.
Can you get cramping 3 days after ovulation?
You can have ovulation cramps 3 days after ovulating, and happens for a lot of people who have cramping during ovulation.
If I’m cramping 3 days after ovulation, could I be pregnant? There is a chance, although it’s too early to tell at this point.
You’ll have to wait another 11 days to do a pregnancy test, sorry!
Can you get cramping 4 days after ovulation?
You may be wondering “I have cramping 4 days after ovulation, could I be pregnant?”
The answer is: not likely.
There is a chance you could be pregnant, but at 4 DPO (days past ovulation), it may be too soon to tell.
Can you get cramping 5 days after ovulation?
Yes, you can get cramping 5 DPO as part of your usual ovulation cramps.
Ovulation cramps on birth control
If you’re using condoms, they likely won’t impact whether you’ll get ovulation cramps or not ‒ if you had cramping during ovulation before using condoms, you’ll probably still have ovulation cramps.
If you’re using an IUD (intrauterine device), that can cause heavier periods and cramping during ovulation and menstruation, but usually only for the first 3-6 months.
Cramping after sex during ovulation
Even if you don’t usually experience cramps during ovulation, you may get ovulation cramps after having sex.
But cramping after sex doesn’t always mean you’re ovulating ‒ it can be caused by dehydration, trying a new sex position, or straining your muscles.
How long do you cramp during ovulation?
So just how long do ovulation cramps last?
Well, it varies. It can be just a couple of minutes or a few days.
If you’ve been cramping since ovulation and it’s been a few days, it may be worth taking a pregnancy test (if it’s two weeks since you ovulated).
Ovulation cramps vs implantation cramps
We mentioned ovulation cramps and menstrual cramps, but one more type of cramping is implantation cramps.
(Makes you wonder, is there any time women don’t get cramps?!)
Implantation is when a fertilized egg attaches to your uterine lining.
This can occur in 3-14 days after fertilization and can cause cramping and minimal bleeding or spotting.
Again, this might be a case where you want to track your cycles to see what’s really causing your pain.
Typically enough, if you’re bleeding during ovulation and have cramps, there’s a chance that could be a sign of ovulation or implantation.
What do ovulation cramps feel like?
What does ovulation cramps feel like?
Ovulation cramping might feel like a dull crampy ache or sharp sudden pain on one side of your lower abdomen.
The severity of pain can range from a mild twinge to severe discomfort and can even be accompanied by slight bleeding.
For women who experience ovulation cramping, it may last between a few minutes to a few hours but usually doesn’t exceed a day or two.
If your pain lasts longer than that, or you have nausea or a fever, definitely call your doctor.
Ovulation cramps are generally felt on one side of the abdomen or pelvis and may vary each month, depending on which ovary is releasing the egg during that cycle.
Approximately half the women who experience it report an alternation during cycles, with pain being experienced on the left side during one cycle and the right side during another.
Other women experience different patterns.
The pain can also vary in intensity from month to month.
And some months you might feel nothing.
Other signs of ovulation
Is cramps a sign of ovulation? It could be.
Ovulation cramps aren’t the only sign that you may be ovulating.
Bloating and cramping during ovulation is another common symptom of ovulation.
Ovulation cramps and gas? You’re not alone ‒ many people who have ovulation cramps also get a little gassier around that time of their cycle.
🔎 Dig deeper: 9 Possible Ovulation Symptoms
Are ovulation cramps a sign of fertility?
Ovulation cramps when TTC can be a helpful sign to know when to time your baby-making dance.
It lets you know that you’re in the fertile time of the month!
If it’s close to the middle of your cycle and you are experiencing ovulation cramping plus the other signs of ovulation, then, by all means, get started on making that baby.
But don’t worry if you’re not experiencing ovulation cramps.
Some estimates say only 1 in 5 women may experience ovulation cramping.
Some women begin to feel ovulation cramps during their first cycle, but it’s also possible to develop them later.
Some women never feel them. It doesn’t mean anything about your ability to get pregnant.
Is it too late to get pregnant when you feel ovulation pain?
I had sex on ovulation day and now I’m cramping, am I pregnant?
There’s a chance you could be pregnant, yes, but there’s also a chance you might not be.
The only way to definitively tell whether you’re pregnant after having sex during ovulation is to take a pregnancy test 14 days after ovulating.
Ovulation cramps (or maybe implantation cramps) aren’t a clear enough indicator of pregnancy ‒ there are just too many variables, it’s too soon to tell!
How long after ovulation cramps is the egg released?
Usually, ovulation cramps occur after the egg has been released ‒ generally about 1-2 days after.
Does ovulation cramps mean pregnancy?
No, not often. Ovulation cramps are a sign of ovulation, not pregnancy.
But there is a chance that your ovulation cramps could actually be implantation cramps.
Or even menstrual cramps.
Seriously, what’s with all the cramps?!
Why does ovulation cause cramps?
Quick science lesson: During ovulation, an egg is released from a follicle that grew in one of your ovaries over the month.
Generally, a few follicles start maturing at the beginning of your cycle, but by the end, there is one “dominant” follicle that was the most receptive to hormonal growth, that is allowed to reach its maximum size.
Once the follicle is fully developed and the appropriate hormones have been produced, the follicle releases the egg when it’s mature — pop!
With that in mind, there are two possible causes for ovulation cramps:
- The growth and stretching of the follicle itself, or;
- Irritation of the abdominal lining and pelvis from the blood or fluid released from the follicle after it releases the egg.
➡️ Dig deeper: Ovulation Pain: Everything You Need to Know
Can ovulation cause lower abdominal pain?
Yes, it certainly can ‒ if you’re getting a pain in one particular side of your lower abdomen, that could be the side that’s releasing an egg this cycle.
How to relieve ovulation cramps
Ovulation cramping can be unpleasant, we know.
While ovulation cramps tend to go away on their own, you can use a few of our nifty ovulation cramps relief suggestions to ease the pain:
- Over-the-counter pain medication, like ibuprofen
- Warm compress
- Warm-hot bath
- Period pain products, like the OOVI pulse therapy kit
What if it’s not ovulation cramps?
It’s normal to experience cramps during ovulation, but severe or persistent abdominal pain could indicate another underlying condition like appendicitis, PCOS (polycystic ovary syndrome), or endometriosis.
Symptoms for these are similar to ovulation cramps, but are generally more severe and sudden.
So, if your ovulation cramps persist beyond 24 hours or if you just don’t feel right, give your healthcare provider a call.
So that’s all there is to know about ovulation cramps, whether you’re TTC or not, to help you navigate this fun little journey we call the menstrual cycle.