A friend asked me to talk about ovulation pain and my first impression was that this is a normal occurrence in females, I didn’t want to imply it is an abnormal medical condition by discussing it.
On further reflection, however, I realise that the impact of this otherwise normal occurrence can be severe in a significant proportion of females and for those with significant pain, it is very important for them to be able to distinguish what is normal from what is not and realise when it’s time to seek help. So here I am discussing this topic which affects almost all females in their reproductive life.
I must add here a big thank you to my friend for bringing this to my attention as I am convinced this topic is very relevant and many ladies can identify with it.
Most women will experience ovulation pain as twinging or cramps during ovulation. Other ovulation pain symptoms include light vaginal bleeding and discharge. Most of the time, rest and over-the-counter medications help. For severe ovulation pain, talk to your Doctor.
What is ovulation pain?
Ovulation pain is pelvic pain that some women have during ovulation. Ovulation is the part of the menstrual cycle when an ovary releases an egg. It usually happens about halfway between your periods when one of the female hormones surges.
What are the symptoms of ovulation pain?
You typically feel the pain in your lower abdomen and pelvis, usually on one side. You may feel it on the side where the ovary is releasing an egg. (For most people, the ovaries take turns ovulating. Each ovary releases an egg every other month.)So if the ovary on the right side is releasing the egg, that’s where you’ll feel the pain. Some people find that the pain switches sides from one cycle to the next. The pain may feel like a mild twinge, or you might have severe discomfort or cramps. It often hurts on just one side. The pain can last from a few minutes to a few hours. You may also experience:
- Light vaginal bleeding.
- Vaginal discharge,
- Nausea, if the pain is bad.
Who gets ovulation pain?
Ovulation pain may affect more than 40% of women who ovulate during their reproductive years — and it can affect them almost every month. Many women never have pain at ovulation. Others have mid-cycle pain every month. They can often tell by the pain that they are ovulating. Ovulation pain may feel similar to period pain — like a cramp. But ovulation pain happens about two weeks before you get your period.
What causes ovulation pain?
The egg develops in the ovary. During ovulation, the ovary releases the egg and fluid, along with some blood. Ovulation pain may happen because of the egg enlarging in the ovary just before ovulation and also due to a ruptured follicle that releases the egg. The egg bursts from the follicle when it’s ready. The burst may cause some bleeding. The blood and fluid from the ruptured follicle may irritate the lining of the abdomen, causing pain.
This is a normal part of the menstrual cycle.
How is ovulation pain diagnosed?
Your Doctor might diagnose ovulation pain based on the timing of the pain. Ovulation usually happens about two weeks into your menstrual cycle. So if the pain happens about midway between periods, it may be ovulation pain. You may be asked to keep a record of your menstrual cycles so you should note whenever you have pain and where you feel the pain. Your doctor may perform an abdominal and pelvic examination. These tests can help rule out other causes of pain, which are mentioned further down in this article.
You may also need an abdominal or vaginal ultrasound. More tests may be arranged if your pain is severe or if anything of concern is found during the examination.
How is ovulation pain treated?
Most people don’t need treatment for ovulation pain. The pain typically goes away within a day. You can take medication available over the counter such as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications, (ibuprofen or naproxen ) to help with the pain.
A heating pad or hot bath may also help provide pain relief.
For severe ovulation pain, talk to your doctor about taking birth control pills. Hormonal birth control medications prevent ovulation. Without ovulating, you won’t have ovulation pain.
If you take birth control pills, you won’t be able to get pregnant. Talk to your doctor if you wish to start or add to your family.
Should I worry about ovulation pain?
Ovulation pain itself is nothing to worry about. But talk to your doctor if you have severe pain. It could be a sign of a different, more serious condition, including:
- Endometriosis: an inflammatory condition affecting the ovaries and fallopian tubes.
- Scar tissue from a caesarean section or other abdominal surgery that caused abdominal adhesions.
- Sexually transmitted diseases: such as chlamydia, which can cause inflammation that leads to painful ovulation.
- Ovarian cyst: a pouch of fluid that develops on an ovary.
- Ectopic pregnancy: when a pregnancy develops outside of the womb, often on one of the fallopian tubes.
- Appendicitis: when the appendix is inflamed.
- Other abdominal problems: such as inflammatory bowel disease.
When should I contact my healthcare provider?
Call your healthcare provider if you missed your last menstrual period or have these symptoms during ovulation:
- Fever greater than 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Smelly and coloured vaginal discharge
- Pain while urinating.
- Red or burning skin where the pain is located.
- Severe nausea or vomiting.
- Severe pain in the middle of your menstrual cycle that lasts longer than a day or occurs during most months.
- Over-the-counter pain medication is not providing relief from the pain.
- Missed period.
- Heavy vaginal bleeding between periods.
Ovulation pain is normal. It’s one of the side effects of your period. It’s not dangerous or a sign of a serious health condition. If you have ovulation pain, try at-home treatments such as a warm bath and over-the-counter pain relief. Ovulation pain doesn’t affect fertility, and it can help you be more aware of when you ovulate should you be trying to get pregnant. Talk to your doctor about any pain you’re having as they can rule out a more serious condition that has similar symptoms.
References: NHS UK, CLEVELAND CLINIC ONLINE, MEDICAL NEWS TODAY. HEALTHLINE
Images: shinealoud.co.uk, medicalnewstoday.com, miracare.com.