Ovulation pain: can you feel when you’re ovulating?

That niggling pain is back again, low down in the left of your lower abdomen. It’d be nice to just sit down and put your legs up, but you’ve got to keep working. That time of month again – no, you’re not due for your period for another two weeks! This is mid-cycle pain. Ovulation pain. Not only do you get period pain, but you’re hassled in the middle of the month by more pain! Why?

That cyclic stabbing pain in one side of the lower abdomen that some women experience is known as ‘’Mittelschmerz’’ (meaning middle pain) or ovulation pain. It is typically described as occurring at mid-cycle. However, this is dependent on the length of the cycle. It would be more accurate to say it occurs approximately 2 weeks before the menstrual period – that is, at the time of ovulation.

Ovulation pain tends to switch sides from month to month (depending on which ovary you are ovulating from, obviously). For most women it lasts a few hours or less – just enough to let them know they are ovulating. For some women, it lasts for more days. And for some very unlucky women, it is severe and can be accompanied by other symptoms such as nausea or even vomiting.

The precise cause of Mittelschmerz is uncertain. It may be due to the enlargement of the follicle before the egg bursts forth in ovulation, or the rupture of the follicle itself, with the spilling of its contents into the surrounding tissue. Whatever it is, if it is anything more than a minor nuisance, you may want to have it looked into.

Severe Mittelschmerz is often due to endometriosis, a condition where the inner lining of the uterus (the endometrium) ends up implanted in places it shouldn’t be. Endometriosis can only be definitively diagnosed with a laparoscopy – a relatively invasive procedure. Women with endometriosis usually have painful and heavy periods as well, and sometimes pelvic or abdominal pain at other times of the month. This can imitate irritable bowel syndrome.

In my experience, cyclical abdominal or pelvic pain is more likely to occur when there are ‘’tissue restrictions’’ around the organs involved (in this case, the ovary, fallopian tube and uterus). For example, endometriosis causes adhesions (scarring) within the tissue which causes it to tighten up and be less flexible. As your pelvic organs contain smooth muscle and are designed to be very mobile, these restrictions can result in you feeling things you shouldn’t (such as pain) – or feeling sensations more strongly than necessary. Tissue restrictions that can be palpated by an experienced physiotherapist are certainly present where there is endometriosis, but many women I see with these problems do not have a diagnosis of endometriosis (yet, anyway). In my experience, ovulation pain, period pain and other pelvic or abdominal pains can be successfully treated by gently easing these tissue restrictions. This involves a form of tissue release known as visceral manipulation, or visceral-specific myofascial release. Visceral manipulation is very gentle and performed through the abdomen by a physiotherapist who has trained specifically in this technique. It can provide relief within just a few sessions.

Listen to an interview with me talking about adhesions in endometriosis and chronic pelvic pain here.

Contact us for an assessment using this approach and possible visceral manipulation treatment, or just to make an enquiry.



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