Is It Normal To Cramp During Ovulation? Causes And Symptoms Of Mittelschmerz

Is ovulation cramping normal?  What does it mean for your fertility?
Is It Normal To Cramp During Ovulation?

Is It Normal To Cramp During Ovulation?

Yes, it is normal to cramp during ovulation. It is normal for ovulation cramping and pelvic pain to last anywhere from a few hours to a couple of days during ovulation in the middle of your menstrual cycle. Cramping is usually mild and can feel like a sudden twinge or dull ache.

What Is Ovulation?

diagram of the ovaries and ovulation
Ovulation Diagram

Ovulation is the release of a mature egg from your ovaries to the fallopian tube.

Women are born with all of the eggs that they will ever have at birth–about 1 million of them!

Every month one egg begins to mature in an ovarian follicle.

You have two ovaries–one on the left, and one on the right. Typically, your ovaries alternate each month. When the egg is mature (about halfway through your menstrual cycle), it naturally ruptures from the follicle and begins to travel down the fallopian tube.

If there is sperm in the fallopian tube, this is when the egg is fertilized, and pregnancy begins.

The egg continues its journey to the uterus.

If the egg is fertilized, it will implant itself in the uterine wall and the embryo begins to grow.

If the egg is not fertilized or fails to implant, your body sheds the uterine lining and blood, which is known as your period.

What Are The Other Symptoms Of Ovulation?

Although it is normal to cramp during ovulation, some women have no pain at all.

If you are trying to track your ovulation during your cycle, you can look for some other clues.

If you have a regular 28-day cycle, ovulation typically occurs at day 14.

You can also check your vaginal discharge. Your vaginal discharge changes depending on where you are in your menstrual cycle:

  • Dry or sticky- The first few days of your cycle.
  • Creamy- The next few days.
  • Watery- As ovulation is approaching.
  • Egg White Consistency- Ovulation is typically in the next day or two.

Your cervical fluid changes as you get closest to ovulation to become an egg-white consistency (clear and stretchy). Your body produces this cervical mucus to help sperm thrive on their journey to the fallopian tubes.

The easiest way to check your cervical mucus is to check the toilet paper when you wipe it first thing in the morning (after the mucus has built up).

You can also check your underwear lining or liner throughout the day.

Another way of tracking ovulation is through your basal body temperature. This is a quick and cheap way to tell whether you are ovulating.

If you are trying to track your ovulation but do not have cramping, cervical mucus is a symptom that you can track. You can also track your luteinizing hormone (LH) which tells you when you are about to ovulate using ovulation tests: more on that here.

Are you currently trying to conceive? If you are learning how to track your cycles, you should read my full article on when to test for ovulation and pregnancy.

What Causes You To Cramp During Ovulation?

Ovulation cramping is it normal?
Ovulation Cramping: Is It Normal?

An estimated 20-40% of women experience painful ovulation and it is completely normal.

While the exact cause of ovulation pain is unknown, there are two thoughts on why this might happen:

  • As the egg follicle grows, it stretches and puts pressure on your ovaries.
  • When the follicle ruptures for the release of an egg, it sometimes releases a follicular fluid that can be irritating to the surrounding tissue.

If you have had any abdominal surgeries like your appendix removed or a Cesarean section the remaining scar tissue can restrict the ovaries and cause additional lower abdominal pain.

What Is Mittelschmerz Pain?

Mittelschmerz is the German words for “middle” (because it happens in the middle of your cycle) and “pain.”

So, Mittelschmerz is the German word that was created to describe ovulation or middle pain during a woman’s cycle.

What Does Ovulation Cramping Feel Like?

Just like period cramps can vary and range in sensation and severity for women, ovulation cramping has also been described in many different ways.

Most report feeling pain in the middle of the abdomen, or on the right or left side of your lower abdomen (depending on which side the follicle is maturing).

Ovulation pain symptoms:

  • A sudden twinge of mild twinge
  • A sharp cramp or sharp pain
  • A dull ache
  • The same feeling as menstrual cramps

How Long Do Ovulation Cramps Last?

Because ovulation is a relatively short event (the egg lives for only 12-24 hours), ovulation cramps are typically short as well, lasting from a few hours to a day or two.

Treatment When You Have Cramps During Ovulation:

Ovulation pain can be treated very similarly to period cramps:

  • Heating pad
  • Warm bath or hot bath
  • Pain medicines
  • Over the counter pain relievers*

*If you are trying to conceive, taking over the counter pain medication like Asprin and Ibuprofen at high does leading up to ovulation could cause you to not ovulate at all.

Does Ovulation Pain Mean You Will Get Pregnant?

digital pregnancy test reads positive
Does ovulation cramping mean you will get pregnant?

You might be tracking your ovulation pain to help you get pregnant.

While ovulation pain itself has no relation to whether or not you will get pregnant if you have ovulation pain that means you are ovulating, and that is the first step to pregnancy!

There is also no scientific evidence to pinpoint when ovulation occurs in relation to ovulation pain. You might experience ovulation pain a few days before you ovulate, or a few hours before.

Knowing the exact time of ovulation will give you the best chance of getting pregnant since the egg only lives for a few hours.

Read my full article on how to determine exactly when you are ovulating, and how soon you can test for pregnancy!

Fertile Window

Because sperm can live for up to 5 days, the 4 days leading up to ovulation and the day of ovulation are considered your fertile window.

You should time sex during your fertile days to increase the odds of the egg meeting sperm in the fallopian tube after ovulation.

Other Causes For Pelvic Cramping:

You might feel abdominal pain at other times during your cycle. If you use an app like Premom or Fertility Tracker to track your cycle, you can use the dates below to help determine what kind of abdominal pain you might be feeling:

Here are the common causes for cycle pain other than ovulation pain:

  • Menstrual Cycle (starting on days 26-28 of a regular menstrual cycle)- In the days before and during your period it is normal to experience cramping. This is your body shedding the blood and uterine lining from your cycle. Some women experience painful periods with heavy bleeding and severe discomfort. Make sure to talk to your doctor about these symptoms.
  • Implantation Cramps (starting between day 20-26 of a regular menstrual cycle)- If the released egg from ovulation is fertilized, the fertilized egg implants in the uterine wall. You might feel cramping, pulling, or light bleeding. This is known as implantation cramps.
  • Pregnancy (starting between day 21-28 of a regular menstrual cycle)- Pregnancy can cause all kinds of weird cramps and pains. It is typically mild discomfort that can start in early pregnancy with implantation or anywhere during the 9-month process. If you have severe pains during pregnancy, you need to seek medical attention right away.
  • Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) or Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome- Women with PCOS might experience irregular periods with additional pain and cramping throughout the reproductive cycle.

Severe Abdominal Pain And Cramping During Ovulation

Severe ovulation pain is uncommon, but if it happens you should see your healthcare provider right away because the pain could be caused by another serious condition like ovarian cysts, pelvic inflammatory disease, or an ectopic pregnancy. Your doctor can do blood tests, ultrasounds, or a pelvic examination to determine where the severe pain is coming from.