While pain is not a common symptom of ovulation, it does occur in some women and can be a telling ovulation sign. Women who do suffer discomfort during ovulation are more easily able to track their cycle if they recognize the pain as one of many ovulation symptoms. There are different types of ovulation pain and understanding the meaning of the symptoms can make determining the day of ovulation easier. While ovulation pain is not uncommon, the majority of women do not have pain as an ovulation symptom.
Cramping and Spotting
Cramping is the most common type of ovulation pain and usually occurs between 7 and 12 days following the first day of the last menstrual period if it is associated with ovulation. The ovulation cramps are usually less severe than those which occur during menstruation and may be accompanied by light spotting. Ovulation cramping and pain may last anywhere from several hours to two or three days and are usually mildly uncomfortable.
Lower Abdominal Pain
A moderate to sharp pain on one side of the lower abdomen called Mittelschmerz (middle pain) is associated with ovulation. The pain may last up to 24 hours, but in most cases, subsides after 6 to 8 hours. While uncomfortable, this type of ovulation pain is usually quite temporary. If the pain lasts for more than 24 hours, or if it is extremely severe, a doctor should be consulted immediately since it may a symptom of appendicitis and not ovulation pain.
Women who are prone to migraine headaches may notice an increase in the severity or number of headaches during the days leading up to ovulation. The reason for the increase in migraine headaches is unknown, but it has been documented as a type of ovulation pain. Cluster headaches are more likely to occur around the time of ovulation and these can produce fairly severe pain. Most migraine medications should be avoided by women trying to become pregnant.
Other Causes of Ovulation Pain
If a woman experiences the same type and degree of ovulation pain each month, there is probably no reason for concern. If Mittelschmerz is a new development and is severe, or if cramping during ovulation becomes markedly worse, it may be a sign of endometriosis. Severe ovulation pain, or nausea and dizziness, may be a symptom of ovarian cysts. Most ovarian cysts are benign, but can lead to abdominal infection or infertility, so worsening symptoms should be reported to a doctor.
Only about 20% of women report ovulation pain. The type and degree of pain varies widely between the women in this group. Severe ovulation pain should always be reported to a doctor to rule out any serious medical condition or health issues, and new or worsening pain merits a medical exam. Fertility drugs may cause an increase in Mittelschmerz pain since the release of multiple ovum may cause minor bleeding from the ovary and contribute to pain.