Though less discussed than painful periods, painful ovulation is a fairly common occurrence. Painful ovulation is medically termed “Mittelschmerz,” which is German for “middle pain.” Ovulation, or the release of a mature egg from the ovary, occurs about halfway between menstrual periods. For many women, Mittelschmerz is experienced as a sharp twinge of pain in one side of the abdomen, pelvis and/or lower back.
Despite the fact that women have been menstruating for all of history, the medical community has yet to learn the exact mechanisms of the pain associated with the menstrual cycle. Though an exact cause has not been pinpointed, there are a number of probable causes of pain during ovulation. The predominant theory is that fluid and blood released from the ovary along with the egg may irritate the lining of the abdomen and cause pain.
Another potential source of pain is simply the release of the egg itself. The ovary doesn’t have an opening through which the egg can gently pass, so the egg must burst through the ovary wall.
Ovulation pain is generally one-sided, since an egg is only released by one ovary each cycle. However, double-sided ovulation pain may be explained by the fact that the follicles – the structures in which eggs develop – of each ovary swell just before ovulation. Reproductive organs are nestled between the abdominal and lower back muscles. Inflammation in the reproductive organs can easily relate pain to surrounding body parts.
Treatment for Mittelschmerz is limited to over-the-counter medications and home remedies. Back pain can be diminished by using a heating pad or hot water bottle. A warm bath may also help to ease pain. If ovulation causes a significant amount of pain, a woman may choose to use birth control methods that stop ovulation.
Generally, Mittelschmerz is a harmless and natural part of the menstrual cycle. If pain is severe, persist longer than 24 hours or is accompanied by bleeding, fever, painful urination or vomiting, medical attention should be sought as there could be another, more serious cause of your symptoms.
One possible cause of abnormal ovulation pain is endometriosis. This condition is caused by the growth of uterine tissue around other bodily structures, including the ovaries. As the ovaries swell around the time of ovulation, the tissue is stretched and causes pain.
Back pain during ovulation is usually not a health concern. Being informed about your body will help to ease your mind and manage pain effectively.
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