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How Long Does Ovulation Pain (Cramps) Last?

Halfway through the menstrual cycle, you may experience some slight abdominal pain. This is no reason for concern as it is usually a sign that you are ovulating. The pain you are feeling is called ovulation pain or cramps. But how long does ovulation pain last?

What is ovulation pain/cramps?

Ovulation pain refers to the cramping you feel when ovulating. To fully understand ovulation cramps, you need to go into what ovulation is and what causes pain during this stage of the menstrual cycle.

Ovulation pain can be any one or a combination of the following:

How long does ovulation pain last? Cramps duration
How long does ovulation pain last?
  • Abdominal pain two weeks to the next period.
  • The pain will be felt in the lower abdomen inside the hip bone.
  • The pain is felt on the side of the ovary releasing an egg. In rare occasions, it can occur on both sides of the abdomen, that is, ovulation cramping on both sides.
  • The pain can either be felt for a short time, for 48 hours or not felt at all.
  • You may experience alternation of the pain from one side to the other with each menstrual cycle.
  • The type of pain felt differs between people with the most common being cramps, sharp pains, pressure, mild or dull pains.

What is ovulation?

Ovulation is the process by which the ovaries release mature eggs to the fallopian tube. This process involves an egg rupturing the ovary follicles to travel through the fallopian tube to the uterus.

When does ovulation occur in a regular menstrual cycle? Ovulation occurs about halfway through the menstrual cycle. For a normal and regular menstrual cycle of 28 days, that is about the 14th day of the cycle.

You can give it an allowance of one to two days on either side of the exact date. That means ovulation may happen between the 12th and 16th day from your last period. But should it be accompanied by severe pain or mild cramping?

What causes ovulation cramps?

Ovulation cramps occur due to various reasons which include the following causes:

  • Growth of the ovum: the ovum (egg) begins as a very small body in a single follicle that matures into an egg ready to merge with a sperm. This growth involves a significant increase in size with the bulging egg which exerts outward pressure on the follicles leading to some abdominal pain during ovulation.
  • The release of the egg: when the egg has matured, it will break out of the follicle to start the journey towards the uterus through the fallopian tube. The process of breaking out of the follicle is accompanied by some abdominal discomfort.
  • Hormonal changes: during this period, hormonal changes can lead to mid-cycle cramping and some bleeding.
  • Irritation of the peritoneum (abdominal lining): when the follicles burst to release the mature egg, the blood from the ruptured follicle can irritate the lining of the abdomen contributing to ovulation cramps.
  • Spasms in the fallopian tubes: after the egg has been released, your fallopian tubes will contract and expand to push it towards the uterus. These muscular movements cause some ovulation pain in the abdomen.
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Ovulation cramps can be accompanied by some light pink spotting. If the pain in the abdomen is very intense and/or has heavy bleeding, you need to have it checked by a gynecologist.

It isn’t a rarity for some complications to come with ovulation symptoms. The bleeding and cramps can also be caused by:

  • Pelvic inflammatory disease (PID): then the pelvis is inflamed, you may experience pain similar to ovulation cramps.
  • Salpingitis: this is the inflammation of the fallopian tubes after they have been infected.
  • Ovarian cysts: these are sacks of fluid that develop in the ovaries. They are quite painful and can be accompanied by some bleeding and a clear liquid when the cysts burst.
  • Endometriosis: if you have intense pain during sex and other times coupled with erratic bleeding, you could be suffering from endometriosis. This is when the endometrium (the lining of the uterine wall) grows outside the uterus rather than inside.
  • Appendicitis: this is the inflammation of the appendix and it is easily confused with ovulation cramps. Unlike ovulation, appendicitis will be accompanied by nausea and vomiting.
  • Ectopic pregnancy: ovulation cramps occur on the sides of the abdomen given that the ovaries (where ovulation occurs) are on the sides of the body.

When an ectopic pregnancy occurs, the fertilized egg will attach to the walls of the fallopian tube rather than the uterus. This can cause a lot of discomfort especially in the abdomen. Some bleeding will also be experienced.

If you notice anything unusual or weird, give your doctor a call right away.

How long does ovulation pain last?

Ovulation pain should last for about 24 hours. This is the same time the ovulation cycle lasts. However, the effects can last from 12 hours to 48 hours. As the time progresses, you should expect the pain to subside and become mild by the hour.

How long does ovulation pain last-
Cramping may last up to 48 hours

When the egg is released into the Fallopian tube, it may get fertilized. If it is fertilized during this time, you may experience implantation pain and bleeding. However, if not fertilized, the egg dies and gets dissolved within about 12 to 24 hours of its release. About two weeks later, you will get your normal menstrual blood (period).

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Ovulation pain, as noted earlier, occurs around the same time ovulation occurs which is midway the menstrual cycle. To be specific, here are a few aspects to know:

Duration of ovulation cramps before you ovulate

You can start feeling the ovulation cramps a day before you actually ovulate. The pain you feel before ovulation takes place would be due to the growth of the egg in size. The increase in size exerts pressure on the follicles and hence the mid-cycle pain before ovulation date.

Another possible reason would be due to the hormonal changes you will be experiencing during this time.

Duration of mid-cycle pain after ovulation is over

Once the ovulation process has taken place, the pain you will be feeling afterwards would be for about a day or two.

The whole process should lead to pain for about two days in total. There are cases where the pain can go on for a longer time after ovulation is over. If this is your case, the pain could be coming from something else. You should see a doctor for further help.

Does ovulation pain occur before or after ovulation?

Ovulation cramps will occur before and after the ovulation process. On both sides of the ovulation process are processes that cause some level of discomfort.

Before the ovulation process, hormonal changes and the increase in the size of the egg will cause the first occurrences of ovulation cramps.

The ovulation process itself causes pain especially when the egg breaks out of the follicles. This is also the source of ovulation spotting.

After the process is complete, the cramps will be felt due to the irritation of the abdominal lining by the blood discharge from the ovulation process, and the muscular movements of the fallopian tubes as they push the egg towards the uterus.

How long do other ovulation symptoms last?

Besides the cramps, other signs that you are ovulating include:

  • The cervical fluid becomes egg-white in color and texture for as long as you are fertile (after ovulation to the next cycle). The amount of the cervical fluid will also be more abundant compared to the other times in the cycle.
  • Your Basal Body Temperature (BBT) will go up when you are fertile and ovulating compared to other times. This will go on from the day of ovulating to the end of the cycle.
  • There is the change in the cervix to a ‘SHOW’ (soft, high, open, wet) state. You can feel this by inserting your middle finger into the vagina to feel the cervix.
  • Although not a sure sign of ovulating, an increased sex drive about midway your menstrual cycle can indicate that you are ovulating.
  • Ovulation spotting is also noticed and it occurs due to the reduction in the levels of the estrogen hormone and its effect on the endometrium. This will only occur for up to a maximum of two days (48 hours).
  • Bloating is also a sign of ovulation in some women. This occurs due to the retention of water by the body.
  • You may also experience heightened senses of smell, sight and taste. You may notice this when you get close to a male person.
  • Headaches and nausea can also be felt during the ovulation period. The nausea and headaches are always mild in nature at this time.
  • You can also exhibit breast tenderness due to the changes in your hormones in the ovulation process.
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While some women may exhibit all these signs, others may not experience any of them. It still is perfectly normal not to experience any of the signs. This signs can start a day before ovulation and last 1 or 2 days after ovulation.

How to get rid of ovulation cramping

With ovulation cramping, you have two main choices at your disposal if at all you have plans to get rid of it.

One requires doing away with the process itself and that entails using birth control pills which will do away with ovulation itself.

The second method entails the employment of methods designed to relieve the pain you would normally feel during the ovulation process. These methods include:

  • Using painkillers that do not interfere with the ovulation process. Use painkillers only when necessary and for as long as your ovulation pain lasts.
  • Using a heating pad on the lower abdomen to relieve the pain,
  • Taking a warm bath or drinking warm water to soothe the pain away,
  • Doing some light exercises such as yoga,
  • You can also check on fennel seeds as they provide relief from the pain.

You should call your doctor in the case that the abdominal pain is very intense and it is accompanied by heavy bleeding as it could mean you have appendicitis or are having an ectopic pregnancy.

References

  1. Sexual Health: Painful Ovulation (Mittelschmerz) – WebMD
  2. Signs and Symptoms of Ovulation – American Pregnancy Association
  3. Am I Ovulating? Know the Signs It’s Time to Get Pregnant – WebMD
  4. 12 Ovulation Symptoms To Help You Get Pregnant – Ovulation Calculator

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