Ovulation Pain Treatment
For most women, ovulation occurs about once every month until menopause, apart from when they are pregnant or breastfeeding.
Ovulation pain is also known as mid-cycle pain and mittelschmerz (German for ‘middle pain’).
About one in five women experience pain and discomfort during ovulation. The duration of the pain varies from one woman to the next but ranges from a few minutes to 48 hours.
In most cases, ovulation pain doesn’t mean that anything is wrong. However, severe pain may sometimes be symptomatic of gynecological conditions.
See your doctor if your ovulation pain lasts longer than three days or is associated with other unusual menstrual symptoms, such as heavy bleeding.
Symptoms of Painful Ovulation
The symptoms of ovulation pain include:
- pain in the lower abdomen
- pain typically occurring about two weeks before the menstrual period is due
- pain felt on the right or left side, depending on which ovary is releasing an egg
- pain that may switch from one side to the other from one cycle to the next, or remain on one side for a few cycles
- a pain sensation that can vary between individuals – for example, it could feel like uncomfortable pressure, twinges, sharp pains, or cramps.
- pain that lasts any length of time from minutes to 48 hours.
Possible causes of ovulation pain
The exact cause of painful ovulation is not clear. There are several other reasons why you might be experiencing pain during your cycle.
Try keeping track of when and where you feel the discomfort, how long it lasts, and any other associated symptoms. Keeping a record can help you and your doctor figure out the underlying cause.
Some causes include:
- Emerging follicle – hormones prompt the ovaries to produce around 20 follicles. Each follicle contains an immature egg (ovum) but only one follicle usually survives to maturity. It is supposed that ovulation pain is caused by the expanding follicle stretching the membrane of the ovary.
- Ruptured follicle – when the egg is mature, it bursts from the follicle. This may cause slight bleeding. The abdominal lining could be irritated by the blood or fluids from the ruptured follicle, and this may trigger the pain.
Medical causes of painful ovulation
Severe and prolonged ovulation pain or other pains felt in the lower abdomen, can be symptomatic of various medical conditions including:
- ovarian cyst
- ectopic pregnancy
- inflammation of the appendix
- other gastrointestinal problems such as perforated ulcer, gastroenteritis, and inflammatory bowel disease.
Diagnosis of ovulation pain
If your mid-cycle pain persists, your doctor can perform different tests to identify the source and offer treatment to help.
Tests that help determine whether ovulation pain is harmless or caused by infection or disease may include:
- medical history
- physical examination, including an internal pelvic examination
- blood tests
- cervical cultures
- abdominal ultrasound
- vaginal ultrasound
- Laparoscopy diagnostic surgery
Ovulation Pain Care
Consult with your gynecologist to make sure that your painful ovulation isn’t caused by any underlying medical problem.
Here is how you can take care of benign ovulation pain yourself:
- Try to relax. If the pain is particularly bothersome, rest in bed whenever you can.
- Use pain-relieving medication.
- Apply warmth to your lower abdomen. Use heat packs, hot water bottles, or warm baths.
- Take anti-inflammatory medication. See your doctor or pharmacist for recommendations.
- The pill and other forms of hormonal contraceptives can prevent ovulation pain because they stop ovulation. Talk over this option with your doctor.
- See your doctor if you experience ovulation pain that lasts longer than three days, or if you have other symptoms such as heavy bleeding or discharge.
All women should have a yearly well-woman visit with their gynecologist to discuss any concerns about their gynecological health as well as receive a full pelvic exam.
If you’re overdue for your visit or are having pain and other symptoms, call your doctor today.
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