Sometimes the female reproductive system is the not-so-awesome gift that keeps on giving. There is PMS, which lovingly socks you with a sucker punch to the gut and emotions a few days before your period. Then comes menstruation, which brings cramps, a hazmat situation to contain, and general feelings of malaise and predisposition to all foods unhealthy.
Just when you think you get to go back to normal for a few weeks, something else hits. For some women ovulation pains, called mittelschmerz, come a-callin’ to add another couple of days of discomfort to your month. Here are the particulars behind the serious pain with a silly name.
What is Mittelschmerz?
Mittelschmerz is the German word for middle pain associated with ovulation. It is a funny sort of pain, appearing and disappearing without warning, and can sometimes last for hours, or in some cases, a few days. Then pain centralizes on the ovulating side of the body in the lower abdomen. The pain can be dull and cramp-like or sharp and sudden. Some light vaginal bleeding or discharge can also occur.
The pain from mittelschmerz generally comes from one of two reasons. Right before an egg releases during ovulation, follicle growth stretches the surface of your ovary which not only sounds unpleasant but can cause pain. The other potential reason is that blood or fluid released from the ruptured follicle irritates the lining of your abdomen, resulting in pain.
Manage Mittelschmerz Pain
For annoying or meddlesome pain, most doctors prescribe an over-the-counter pain reliever for relief such as ibuprofen. Cold or hot packs can also reduce the achiness. If it is excruciating, some women opt to go on birth control pills to prevent ovulation, thus preventing mittelschmerz.
When It’s Something More
Not all abdominal pain during ovulation is caused by mittelschmerz, however. There are several other things that might be to blame, including fibroids, scar tissue, ovarian cysts, cancer, and ectopic pregnancy, which is a life-threatening condition. While they all can cause a pain like mittelschmerz at first, the pain will steadily grow in both intensity and duration. The rule of thumb is if the pain does not take place 14 days before your period and it lasts longer than 72 hours, it’s probably not mittelschmerz. If the pain lasts more than two weeks, it’s time to see your doctor.