Wondering if you’re experiencing ovulation cramps? We’ve got you. We’ve done some digging and figured out when ovulation cramps happen, what they feel like, and what you can do to relieve the pain.
When do ovulation cramps occur?
The first thing to know about ovulation cramps is… they occur during ovulation! This means they happen right before, during, or after the release of an egg from your ovaries. Generally, this occurs around the middle of your cycle, but it can vary from woman to woman and from month to month.
You can track your menstrual cycle for two to three months to assess whether the pain you’re feeling is linked to ovulation. If your pain occurs around day 14 of your cycle, then it’s probably ovulation. Some other ovulation signs to look for include: increased cervical mucus, breast tenderness, increased libido, spotting or light bleeding, and increased basal body temperature.
If your pain occurs closer to day 28, and your period usually comes soon after the cramping starts, then it’s probably menstrual cramps.
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.
What do 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.
Where do you feel ovulation pain?
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. Weird, huh!
Is ovulation pain a good sign of fertility?
If you’re trying to get pregnant, ovulation cramping can be a helpful sign. 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 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 pain. 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.
What causes pain during ovulation?
Quick science lesson: During ovulation, an egg is released from a follicle that grew in one of your ovaries over the course of the month. Generally a few follicles start maturing at the beginning of your cycle, but by the end, there is one “dominant” follicle 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 — pop!
With that in mind, there are two possible causes for ovulation pain:
- The growth and stretching of the follicle itself, or;
- Irritation of the abdominal lining and pelvis from the blood / fluid released from the follicle after it releases the egg.
➡️ Learn more: Ovulation Pain: Everything You Need to Know
What can you do about ovulation cramps?
Ovulation cramping can be unpleasant. It tends to go away on its own, but if it’s really bothersome, you can use over-the-counter pain medication such as ibuprofen, a warm compress, or a bath.
Is it something else?
It’s normal to experience pain during ovulation, but severe or persistent abdominal pain could indicate another underlying condition like appendicitis, ovarian cysts complications, and endometriosis. Symptoms for these are similar to ovulation pain, but are generally more severe and sudden.
So, if your ovulation pain persists beyond 24 hours or if you just don’t feel right, give your healthcare provider a call!