Apart from monthly menstrual cramps, some women might feel abdominal cramps on days prior to their menstrual cycle. There are many possible reasons for the sensation of mid-cycle cramps in women, and one common one is ovulation pain (or mittelschmerz). If your cramp tends to regularly occur two weeks prior to the start of your period, ovulation period might be the culprit.
What ovulation is and why pain might be felt
Every month during ovulation, your ovary releases a mature egg from a rupturing follicle. This egg then travels down the fallopian tube and to the uterus, awaiting fertilisation. If it does not get fertilized, it will get expelled during a woman’s period. This process occurs on day 14 of a general menstrual cycle, two weeks before a woman’s period. So, why would some women feel pain during this process of ovulation? The culprit behind the pain is the dramatic rupturing of a follicle to release the mature egg.
How to determine if it is ovulation pain
If you are unsure whether you are indeed experiencing ovulation pain, here are some characteristics of ovulation pain which you can look out for:
- It regularly occurs about two weeks prior to your period
- It is short-term (it only lasts from a few hours to days)
- It only occurs on one side of the abdomen and feels more localised compared to menstrual cramps (however, the side of the cramp might change each month)
- The cramp occurs concomitantly with breast tenderness and a clear white discharge from below
How to deal with it
As with menstrual cramps, there are many methods to fight the pain from ovulation cramps. Applying a heat pad over the area can provide comfort and relief pain in the short-term. If this does not work, you can also consider taking over-the-counter analgesics as an alternative.
Ovulation pain is just one possible explanation of cramps outside of your menstrual cycle. Always be alert to changes in your body. If you notice worsening pain or irregularities in your cycle, always check with your family doctor or gynaecologist to check for more serious conditions.