Back pain
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Does Ovulation Make Your Back Hurt? A Doctor Explains

It’s completely possible. Here’s why.

by Cat Bowen
Originally Published: 

Aches and pains just seem to multiply as each year goes by, but for some of us, the irritating everyday spasms, twinges, and soreness seem to rise and fall each month on a fairly regular cycle. This leads many to believe that their aches and pains might have more to do with their menstrual cycles than their age. But can your menstrual cycle cause those aches? If your period's not due for a couple of weeks, can you blame your cycle? Does ovulation make your back hurt? If it seems like you're reaching for the IcyHot every month at the same time, there may be a real reason.

Does ovulation make your back hurt?

During ovulation, there is a rise in estrogen just before you ovulate, and a rise in estrogen and progesterone right after ovulation. The thing about estrogen and progesterone is that they wreak havoc all over your body, not just your reproductive system.

Another thing that controls ovulation (and is a huge part of your reproductive cycle) — prostaglandins — could be to blame. “An increase of prostaglandins just before and during a woman’s period can cause uterine cramping and pain in the vagina, thighs, back, and even buttocks,” Dr. Mary Jacobson, Chief Medical Director at Alpha Medical, tells Romper.


And it may be worse for women with disorders of the reproductive system like polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) or endometriosis, because not only are they dealing with additional disruptive hormone influences, they're also dealing with things like cysts, scar tissue, and pain in other areas that might exacerbate the symptoms of ovulation even further.

I will tell you that for me, my back pain radiates differently throughout my cycle. I have endometriosis and PCOS, so my body is attacking itself fairly regularly at this point. At the midpoint of my cycle, during ovulation, I get bloated, achy, and my joints and back become tender, a phenomenon known as “mittelschmerz.”

Mittelschmerz, a German word meaning “middle pain,” is the achy, crampy, bloated period that happens concurrently with the process of ovulation, and Jacobsen says this “mittelschmerz” could be to blame for your achy pains during ovulation, too. An average woman ovulates anywhere between day seven and 21 of her cycle. When the egg is released, the ovulatory pain (mittelschmerz) can cause “light pain or cramping on one or both sides of the pelvic area for some women,” Jacobsen explains.

How to manage the back pain caused by ovulation

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Fortunately, there are good methods to managing the pain, noted the Cleveland Clinic, and there are a few different avenues you can pursue for relief. One are the tried and true over-the-counter remedies like naproxen sodium (Aleve) or ibuprofen (Motrin). Both of these are pain relievers and anti-inflammatory agents that decrease swelling and ease discomfort. The other thing the clinic suggested is that if it's really bothering you, you could consider going on birth control pills. They prevent ovulation and keep your hormones at an even keel all month long, thus hopefully preventing mittelschmerz aches and pains. As for myself, I am team heating-pad-and-glass-of-wine, but that's just me.

If you're hoping to get pregnant during your cycle, relying on back pain to let you know when you're ovulating probably isn't the best idea. “Other signs of ovulation include light spotting, increase in vaginal discharge and sex drive, and breast tenderness,” Jacobsen says. You can also use some natural family planning methods like taking your basal body temperature each morning, using ovulation test strips, and trying to hit your “window” during sex each month.

But if your back pain each month during ovulation is severe or lasting, you should call your OB-GYN and get evaluated for any additional problems that may be present and causing your pain. Otherwise, it’s just another reason to look forward to menopause.


Dr. Mary Jacobson, Chief Medical Director at Alpha Medical

Studies referenced:

Reed B, Carr B. (2018) The Normal Menstrual Cycle and the Control of Ovulation. Endotext, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK279054/.

Wijnhoven H, de Vet H, Smit H, Picavet S. (2006) Hormonal and Reproductive Factors are Associated With Chronic Low Back Pain and Chronic Upper Extremity Pain in Women–The MORGEN Study. Spine, https://journals.lww.com/spinejournal/Abstract/2006/06010/Hormonal_and_Reproductive_Factors_are_Associated.17.aspx.

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