Health A to Z
Some women get a one-sided pain in their lower abdomen when they ovulate.
Also known as mittelschmerz (German for "middle pain" or "pain in the middle of the month") it happens about 14 days before your period when an ovary releases an egg as part of the menstrual cycle.
Ovulation pain is often normal and just another side effect linked with menstruation.
The pain can be a dull cramp or a sharp and sudden twinge.
It’s usually on either the left or right hand side of your tummy depending on which ovary is releasing the egg.
It can last just a few minutes or continue for a day or two. Some women notice a little vaginal bleeding when it happens.
If the pain is severe or you’re worried, see your GP. It’s a good idea to keep a diary before your visit so you can let the doctor know exactly when during your menstrual cycle the pain comes on and how long it lasts.
Painful ovulation can usually be eased by simple remedies like soaking in a hot bath or taking an over-the-counter painkiller, such as paracetamol.
Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as ibuprofen may also help, but you should not take them if you're trying to get pregnant as they can interfere with ovulation.
If you're in a lot of discomfort, talk to your GP about other treatment options.
Painful ovulation is fairly common and usually harmless. It can sometimes though be a symptom of an underlying medical condition.
Some of the underlying causes can result in fertility problems that can prevent you from getting pregnant:
No-one is sure but one theory is that the pain is the egg breaking through the ovary wall, which releases a small amount of fluid or sometimes a small amount of blood that irritates nearby nerves.