Lower abdominal pain associated with your ovulation cycle is a condition known as mittelschmerz. Mittelschmerz is the German word for middle pain. When you experience lower abdominal pain, it will usually occur about 14 days prior to when you are due to start your period. There are many women who experience the pain associated with ovulation. Very rarely is the pain worrisome, but if you experience symptoms that cannot be alleviated with pain medication, speak with a doctor about treatment options, such as an oral contraceptive prescription.
According to the Mayo Clinic, mittelschmerz is associated with the side on which you are ovulating. At times, the side of the pain may alternate from month to month, or be on the same side continually. The pain can be dull or sharp, and can last for days. Most times the pain is bearable, but in rare cases, the pain can become severe enough to seek medical treatment. At any time you begin to run a fever, or begin to have nausea/vomiting, see a doctor to rule out ectopic pregnancy or appendicitis.
How it Occurs
It is estimated that up to 20 percent of women suffer from mittelschmerz. When you are going through your menstrual cycle, estrogen makes your uterine lining thicken in order to cradle a fertilized egg. When an egg is released, it will either be fertilized and implanted, or passed through your uterus. If the egg is passed, menstruation begins.
There are few reasons mittelschmerz occurs. It may be that when your body is releasing an egg, follicle growth occurs. Within your body are your ovaries, which contain tiny follicles. Inside of each follicle is one egg. When the follicle grows, it can stretch your ovary, which can result in pain. Another reason you may experience mittelschmerz, is due to blood from a follicle being released.
Sometimes you can take Tylenol or Ibuprofen to help with pain symptoms. Using a hot pad on your stomach, or soaking in a warm bath can also help. If symptoms are severe enough that pain medications can't help alleviate symptoms, your doctor may prescribe oral contraceptives. If an egg can't be released due to the contraceptive, then the pain of mittelschmerz is inhibited.
If you notice an increase in severity of pain, then you should speak with a doctor to make sure their are no underlying causes. You may need an abdominal ultrasound or pelvic exam to make sure you are not suffering from any conditions such as pelvic inflammation or an enlarged ovary. There are no serious complications from mittelschmerz.
Though the experience of abdominal pain with ovulation is normal, other symptoms are not. If you begin to have a change in urination, such as infrequency, a change in your appetite, or that your abdomen becomes extended, speak with a doctor. Dizziness, loose (watery) stools or pain that begins to throb and extend to your lower back or thighs also need to be addressed.