Ovulation Cramping: Is It Normal To Cramp During Ovulation?

Yes, it is normal to cramp during ovulation. In fact, 20% of women– myself included- experience pain 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.

This is my own experience and research on ovulation pain as someone who experiences it every month. I am not a doctor or medical professional. You should always consult your healthcare provider if you have questions or concerns about ovulation pain. 

woman in blue dress curled over with cramps on couch

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What Causes Ovulation Cramping?

The reason why some women experience ovulation pain is unknown, but there are two possible causes:

  1. As the egg follicle grows, it stretches and puts pressure on your ovaries.
  2. When the follicle ruptures to release an egg, it sometimes releases a follicular fluid that can irritate 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 pain is the same thing as ovulation pain. Mittelschmerz is the German term for “middle” (because it happens in the middle of your cycle) and “pain.” Mittelschmerz is the German word that was created to describe ovulation or midcycle pain. 

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.

Personally, I feel what I would describe as a menstrual cramp or a mild contraction during ovulation. The pain usually only lasts a few hours for me. 

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).

I only started experiencing ovulation cramping after the birth of my children. Before having children, I used birth control pills (which prevent an egg from being released), which might explain why I didn’t feel any ovulation pain before. 

Ovulation pain symptoms:

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

​Women can experience cramping in the abdominal cavity (lower belly), pelvis, or lower back. It can be a central or one-sided pain. Intense pain is not normal and should be evaluated by a doctor. 

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

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.

I typically have the pain for 3-6 hours on average, although my first few postpartum periods were worse. 

Treatment For Ovulation Cramps

Ovulation pain can be treated very similarly to period cramps. Treatment options are common home remedies. Severe pain should receive medical intervention. 

  • Heating pad
  • Warm bath or hot bath
  • Rest
  • Over-the-counter pain relievers*

*If you are trying to conceive, taking over-the-counter pain medication like aspirin and Ibuprofen at high doses leading up to ovulation could cause you not to ovulate

Other Causes For Pelvic Cramping

You might feel abdominal pain at other times during your cycle. Here are the common causes of cycle pain other than ovulation pain:

  • Period: 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: 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: Pregnancy can cause cramps and pains. It is typically mild discomfort that can start in early pregnancy with implantation or anywhere during the 9-month process. You must seek medical attention immediately if you have severe pains during pregnancy.
  • 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 exam to determine where the severe pain is coming from.

Other Symptoms of Ovulation 

In addition to mid-cycle pain, I also experience ovulation headaches, back pain, and breakouts around ovulation time. These are all common symptoms of ovulation.  

Although it is normal to cramp during ovulation, most women have no pain at all. So, 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.
  • Cervical mucus is a symptom that you can track. As you get close to ovulation, your cervical fluid changes 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. 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.
    • 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).
  • Another sign that ovulation has happened is a rise in your basal body temperature
  • You can also track your luteinizing hormone (LH), which tells you when you are about to ovulate using ovulation tests

What is ovulation? 

Confused about what ovulation is? You’re not alone! Before I started trying to conceive, I had no idea what ovulation meant–I just knew it had something to do with getting pregnant. 

​Your menstrual cycle has 4 phases: 

  1. The follicular phase: your ovaries prepare one mature egg to release. 
  2. The day of ovulation: the ovarian follicle ruptures and releases an egg to your fallopian tube. 
  3. Luteal phase: 
  4. Your period or pregnancy. 

Does Ovulation Pain Mean You Will Get Pregnant?

No, ovulation pain does not mean you will get pregnant.

But it’s not all bad news. 

If you do have ovulation pain, your body is giving you a clear sign that you are ovulating, which is the first step to getting pregnant! 

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.

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I am the founder of Mommy Maker Teacher and a mom of two toddlers. With a degree in education, 12+ years of experience as a K-12 teacher and curriculum developer, and courses in childhood psychology and language acquisition, I share research-backed parenting tips and advice. I provide helpful content for moms on all stages of motherhood—from trying to conceive and pregnancy to postpartum, breastfeeding, and parenting.