Cramping and pain is something that most women experience at some point in their life in relation to their menstrual cycle and is associated with the shedding of the uterus lining commonly known as your ‘period’. However, 1 in 3 women also experience pain during ovulation.
Ovulation pain sometimes known as mittelschmerz (translated from German is ‘middle pain’) and refers to the dull ache or pain that a women might feel midway through her menstrual cycle when the an egg/s reach maturity and are released from the ovary into the fallopian tube.
The exact cause for the pain is disputable and some women report the pain to last only a few hours while some report it lasting days, suggesting that the source of the pain could defer from women to women.
A women’s menstrual cycle is divided into roughly equal halves with the average menstrual cycle lasting approximately 28-30 days. Within the first 14-15 days known as the follicular phase a select number (this varies depending on the women and vary each month) of follicles housing an egg begin to mature and grow in anticipation of release. There is some thought that the tension caused due to the ovarian muscle contracting around the growing follicles may cause some pain. This theory would support some research that showed some women’s pain eased prior to actual ovulation when an egg/s were released into the fallopian tube.
In some cases, women who report the pain to be more acute and short-lived may experience pain due to the release of a small amount of blood from the ruptured follicle when the egg is released. This blood may leak into the abdominal cavity and cause some irritation. In some cases, an ultrasound was able to detect the small amount of blood confirming this.
One amazing fact that not many people know (especially as many pictures don’t illustrate this correctly) is that the ovaries are not actually attached to the fallopian tubes and that when ovulation occurs the fallopian tube use its fimbriae (Latin for fringe) to sweep up the releasing egg from the ovary.
Women who are tracking their cycles and have regular one and are aware of when ovulation is approaching can sometimes easily detect the signs of ovulation. The pain is localised to one side of the abdomen which houses the maturing follicles and the subsequent egg which will be released that cycle. The pain will often alternate each side from month to month and can also be a good indicator of which ovary has released an egg.
There is no official treatment for ovulation pain and for most women it isn’t painful enough or long lasting to require a course of treatment, over the counter pain relief or a hot compress or bath should alleviate most of the pain and discomfort. If you find that none of the above provide enough relief then you should visit a your GP for further treatment and also could be a sign of something more serious.
By Ellie Dearden
Hypnobirthing Instructor with Born to Birth Company