Ovulation Pain and Other Signs
Unlike your monthly period, whose arrival you are unlikely to miss, the feeling that accompanies ovulation is often much more subtle. Some women don’t feel ovulation at all, while others may experience mild pain. Ovulation happens when the ovary releases a mature egg, which then travels down the fallopian tubes in search of sperm for fertilization. Most women with regular ovulation do so every month, but its timing is unique to each woman. Tracking your menstrual cycle and paying attention to clues from your body can help you determine when you are most likely to ovulate every month.
Figuring out when you are most likely to ovulate in any given month begins with knowing your menstrual cycle. Ovulation happens about two weeks prior to your next period; average cycles differ among women. You need to know your average cycle to make an accurate prediction. The average menstrual cycle is 28 days, which means ovulation likely happens around day 14. If your cycle is shorter or longer than average, subtract 14 from your average number of cycle days, and that's when you are most likely to ovulate. For example, if you have a 26-day cycle, then you are probably going to ovulate around day 12. However, if you have a longer cycle, such as a 32-day cycle, you are more likely to ovulate around day 18.
It’s no secret that cramps often accompany menstrual periods, but some women experience mid-cycle cramping during ovulation, too. Ranging from a mild ache to more severe cramping, the pain sometimes caused by ovulation is more formally known as mittelschmerz, which stems from German words that translate as “middle” and “pain.” Fortunately, unlike period pain, which can last for several days, mittelschmerz typically does not last longer than a few hours. Ovulation cramping is usually felt in the lower abdomen near the hipbone and concentrated on one side of the body, depending on which ovary released the egg. Though the pain usually resolves on its own in a short period of time, over-the-counter pain medicines such as ibuprofen can help provide some relief.
Signs of Ovulation
While pain is the most obvious sign of ovulation, the body provides other clues to help you figure out when your mature egg is ready and waiting for fertilization. Watch for changes in your cervical fluid. Around the time of ovulation, the amount of cervical fluid increases and becomes clear and slippery, sometimes resembling egg whites. Ovulation predictor kits sold at most pharmacies and other stores also can help you predict when you ovulate. Once you get a positive result with an ovulation predictor kit, you can usually expect to ovulate within 24 to 36 hours. Charting your basal body temperature (BBT) every morning before you get out of bed can’t predict ovulation, but it can help confirm it. You may notice a slight, half-degree increase in your BBT after ovulation has occurred.