Some people can tell when they're ovulating by the physical sensations in their body, no thermometers or calendar trackers needed. It's a distinct feeling all on its own, and for some, a it can be a painful one. While many experience discomfort in the section between their ribs and pelvis, does ovulation cause actual stomachaches in some people? Learning more about this part of the cycle can help explain so much about those random aches and pains throughout the month.
Also known as mittelschmerz, or "middle pain," the physical pain caused by ovulation can be super noticeable for some individuals, according to WebMD. It's a pretty specific sort of feeling, too. "Yes, for some women ovulation can cause pain. However, I wouldn’t describe it as a 'stomachache'. The pain will be lower in the abdomen and short-lived. Most women will describe it as a 'cramping' or 'pinching' pain," as OB-GYN Dr. Julia Simon, assistant professor of obstetrics and gynecology at the University of Chicago Medicine, tells Romper. It's typically a quick occurrence as well. "Ovulation pain is short-lived and can be timed with your cycle as it will occur about 14 days before your period starts. Aside from this being a short-lived pain, most women do not require pain medication during ovulation," Dr. Simon explains.
For many people, ovulation comes and goes without any noticeable symptoms. "Some women experience no ovulation pain at all," OB-GYN Rashmi Kudesia, M.D. told Parents. But for those who do, The U.S. National Library of Medicine explains the pain associated with ovulation will generally last for a max of two days, and for some people, it may only linger for a few minutes.
So why do some people experience a bit of pain during ovulation anyway? It's simply the body reacting to the egg's release. "The pain is likely caused by a local inflammatory process," explains Dr. Simon. "Some fluid is released from the ovary with the egg during ovulation and that can cause a pain or irritation. This is not harmful though." It's just a normal (if uncomfortable) bodily process.
That said, it's important to take note if pain around the time of ovulation is particularly severe, especially if other symptoms are present. "Symptoms that are signs of something more serious will be pain not controlled with over-the-counter pain medicine, nausea and vomiting, or fevers," says Dr. Simon. If this is the case, it's a good idea to visit your doctor for a checkup and advice. Particularly severe pain may be caused by something like endometriosis, a chronic condition that causes long-term pain outside ovulation time as well, she says.
For the most part, though, the pain that's associated with actual ovulation tends to be minor (if a bit annoying). Brief, mild cramping sensations that happen about two weeks before your period are totally normal examples of this ovulation pain. So whether you're actively tracking fertility or just wondering why your abdomen hurts at random from time to time, some ovulation pain unfortunately just may be a normal part of your monthly cycle, and should you need it, your doctor can help you find the best relief from it.