The human body functions at so many intricate levels and performs so many different tasks that it is baffling to comprehend it all. One of these tasks is that of reproduction and to be more specific, in a woman's body that process begins with ovulation.
Ovulation is in essence the release of an egg from the ovaries for the purpose of fertilization. It is a phase of the menstrual cycle and happens about once a month for most women until menopause. While ideally ovulation is a painless experience, some women experience pain related to this phase of the menstrual cycle. Statistically speaking it is estimated that as many as 1 in 5 women experience pain related to ovulation.
Ovulation related pain presents itself primarily in the lower abdomen (right or left side) near the hip bone, in the pelvic area or the lower back and may vary from sharp pain to a dull ache. The pain might present itself only on one side of the body one month and on the other the next depending on which ovary is releasing the egg. The duration of the pain may be for a few minutes to a couple of days.
Gastrointestinal pain and symptoms may also be related to ovulation. According to the National Institute of Health, about 20% of women suffer from ovulation pain. It is also called 'Mittleschmerz' as ovulation pain is referred to in German. Ovulation pain shows up in the middle of the menstrual cycle as lower back pain. Ovulation pain begins from the abdomen and spreads to the back and pelvis. As the egg is secreted from only one ovary, the pain is on one side. Ovulation pain shows up on day 14 of the menstrual cycle for a woman with a normal 28 day menstrual cycle.
The pain in general is normal and not a cause of concern. However if the pain persists for more than 24 hours and is accompanied with rise in body temperature, one needs to consult a physician. Pain may occur every month or may occur every three-four months. Few women may experience nausea, mild vaginal bleeding or discharge during ovulation pain. Your doctor may also perform an abdomen and pelvic examination to rule out other reasons that may be causing the pain.
Causes of ovulation pain
Pain related to the ovulation phase of a woman's menstrual cycle may be caused by one of several reasons. They may include:
Emerging follicles: the emergence of new follicles may cause ovulation pain. Follicles hold immature eggs till they reach maturation and are ready to be released.
Swelling of the follicles: Before a follicle ruptures to release an egg, it swells in size and this may cause pain in the abdominal area.
Ruptured follicles: The very act of an egg being released by the ovary due to the rupturing of a follicle may cause pain.
Spasms of the fallopian tubes or uterus: The fallopian tubes contract as the egg passes during ovulation and may also contribute to pain during this time of the month.
Treatment for ovulation pain
There is no prescribed route of treatment for ovulation related pain. Simple pain relief methods such as using a heat pad or taking a warm bath are recommended. Over the counter pain relief medications should also ease the symptoms. If the pain persists, or gets worse over time or you develop a temperature it is highly recommended that you consult with a doctor for further action.
Ovulation pain may be typically characterized by the following