Ah, ovulation. Whether you're trying to increase your chances of getting pregnant — or vigilantly trying to avoid getting pregnant — this is a topic to care about. Ovulation is the process near the midpoint of your cycle in which your ovary releases a mature egg for fertilization (and whether or not that egg has a chance to get fertilized is up to you). Whether you're #TTC or not, many women like to know when their ovulation is occurring. So are there telltale signs that ovulation is occurring, or does ovulation make you feel sick? Just like your period, different women experience this phenomenon differently.
According to the American Pregnancy Association (APA), there are a few symptoms that may occur around the time of ovulation. Most women experience changes in cervical fluid (i.e. discharge), basal body temperature, and the position and firmness of the cervix. Some women may experience spotting, cramping, tender breasts, and bloating. According to The Bump, you may even experience a bit of nausea.
There are a couple different reasons why you might feel sick to your stomach around the time that you ovulate. As you might imagine, women experience changes in their hormone levels during this time. Specifically, according to APA, we experience a surge in something called the luteinizing hormone, or LH, 12 to 36 hours prior to ovulation. If you've ever used a home ovulation kit, this is the hormone that it measures. According to the fertility blog Conceive Success, this quick spike in the LH hormone can throw your digestive system out of whack, thus making some women feel nauseated. (And throwing you for a loop as you wonder about pregnancy symptoms.)
For Rachel Rodriguez, 27, there is absolutely no mistaking when she's ovulating. "I can literally feel whether my egg is releasing from my left or right ovary each month about two weeks before my period. The pain is worse than my period cramps. It feels like something is being carved out, and Advil and exercise don't help. It usually lasts about 45 minutes," Rodriguez tells Romper.
There's a name for this pain that Rodriguez deals with monthly, and she's not the only one who experiences it. Some women experience constant discomfort, while others experience sharp, intermittent pain. "Some women feel a twinge or even a painful sensation at the time of ovulation. Medically, this is called mittelschmerz, or 'middle pain,' which is usually a one-sided, lower abdominal pain associated with ovulation," says Dr. Alan Copperman, Medical Director at Progyny, in a message to Romper.
Wonderful, because PMS and menstrual cramping obviously weren't fun enough on their own. According to the Mayo Clinic, there are two potential causes for mittelschmerz:
Hypothesis #1: follicle growth right before ovulation actually stretches the surface of your ovary, which leads to some inevitable pain.
Hypothesis #2: There is blood and fluid released when the follicle ruptures and releases your egg, and one of these substances irritates the lining of your abdomen and creates this uncomfortable feeling.
If you're someone who experiences unpleasant physical changes during ovulation, there are two things to remember: it is temporary, and it is normal. Of course, these facts won't make you feel any better in the moment, but there are a few things that might. According to WebMD, over-the-counter pain medications, heating pads, and a warm bath can all help reduce pain and cramping. Personally, I'd recommend getting into full-on pamper yourself mode and do all three.
For women who struggle with particularly painful ovulation and aren't currently trying to conceive, taking birth control pills might be the best solution. These medications actually prevent ovulation completely, thus also reducing the side effects that come along with it. Communicate with your doctor, and they'll help you find a treatment plan that works best for you.
So yes, ovulation can indeed make some women feel sick. However — and this is important — there are certain signs and symptoms that can point to a medical issue. If your pain lasts longer than 24 hours, you develop a fever, begin vomiting, or experience painful urination, talk to your doctor right away. A little bit of pain is OK, but those symptoms may point to something more serious than your standard mittelschmerz.
Whether you're hyper-aware when ovulation occurs or the entire process happens unbeknownst to you, one thing is a fact: women's bodies are freaking fascinating.