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Some women experience cramps before ovulation and others after. So which is it? 

The truth is, the egg is released at ovulation, so those who experience cramps before are probably experiencing pre-ovulatory pain. 

It’s not uncommon to have some discomfort during this time because of the increase in hormones. 

This article explains everything you need to know about ovulation cramps and when they occur.

Does ovulation pain occur before or after ovulation?

Researchers first noticed that women often experience cramping at the time of ovulation around 100 years ago, but they didn’t understand why. This study discovered that progesterone released during ovulation causes cramping.

The researchers found 56 women who regularly experienced ovulation pain and tracked them throughout their menstrual cycle to determine exactly when the pain occurred. They also tested the women’s urine for a hormone called pregnanediol-3alpha, 20 alpha-dihydrogen, which shows up in elevated levels when ovulation occurs. The team compared their findings with data from 28 women who didn’t have cramping as well as 35 men and nonovulating women. In addition, they analyzed urine from pregnant women.

The scientists found that pre-ovulatory pain most often occurred in the lower abdomen and lasted a few minutes to a few hours. In some cases, the pain was severe enough for women to miss work or even seek medical help, but it normally stopped with heat or a hot bath. The researchers confirmed that the cramps were associated with ovulation because they disappeared when women took a pregnancy test.

On the other hand, post-ovulatory pain occurred after an egg was released and typically lasted around two days. It could start anywhere in the abdomen but commonly spread to the lower back and thighs. This type of pain sometimes continued for up to three days.

The researchers found that 96 percent of the women who experienced ovulation pain had elevated pregnanediol-3alpha levels, while only 43 percent of women who didn’t have cramping had high amounts of the hormone. They also found that pregnant women often reported more discomfort than nonpregnant women throughout their entire menstrual cycle.

“This provides indirect evidence that the origin of pre-ovulatory abdominal pain is likely caused by a combination of chemical and mechanical factors,” said lead author Dr. Oren Friedman, of Harvard University in Massachusetts, US.

Causes of Pre-Ovulation Cramps

The most common cause of pre-ovulation cramps is prostaglandins. These are a group of hormones that have an inflammatory effect on the mucous membranes and uterine lining, leading to inflammation or irritation in some women. This means they may experience painful menstrual-like cramps before ovulating because their body is preparing for a possible pregnancy.

Other Conditions That Can Cause Ovulation Cramps

Ovulation cramps can also be caused by other conditions such as endometriosis, adhesions or scar tissue from previous surgery, pelvic inflammatory disease (PID), uterine fibroids, ovarian cysts, and cancers uterus or ovaries, and certain medications.

It is essential to seek advice from doctors if you experience any of these conditions or symptoms because they may impact treatment options, such as surgery or medication.

The Three types of cramping

  • During Ovulation

It is very typical for women to experience some cramps pain during the ovulation period. This means that your body’s releasing an egg into the fallopian tube or uterus due to the ups and downs of hormone levels at this time. The pain can be felt on one side of your lower stomach and lasts about an hour or so if you could feel pain on both sides, which indicates that the other ovarian follicle also has released another mature egg cell. So there are two eggs in the fallopian tube right now waiting for sperm fertilization to make your pregnancy possible.

  • Before Ovulation Pain

This kind of pain happens hours before ovulation and before you get pregnant. The uterine wall is well-stretched due to the increase in progesterone level, and the female hormone estrogen helps soften the fallopian tubes, so there is plenty of room for a fertilized egg to implant itself into your uterus (womb). The pain can be more sharp and intense if an egg is released but has no sperm cell to fertilize with it. This can happen on any day between the ovulation period and menstruation. If there is a fertilized egg inside, then the pain will disappear as soon as it gets implanted into your womb after few days.

  • After Ovulation Pain

This type of pain can also happen after you’ve ovulated. If a fertilized egg has implanted into your uterus, it can cause the uterine muscle to contract, causing mild cramping. The stronger and longer-lasting cramp can signify infections or severe hormone imbalance that will prevent the egg from getting implanted into your womb. Once the egg is out of your system, the pain will go away on its own if there are no other complications involved.

What Is Mittelschmerz Pain (Painful Ovulation)?

Mittelschmerz pain, or “middle pain” in German, is a sharp severe pain that occurs from Day 12 to 16 of your menstrual cycle (or the 4-7 days before ovulation) and only affects one side of the lower abdomen. It can last for up to an hour and radiate either into the hip region, towards the groin, or even towards the liver area. Afterward, this pain may increase during urination as well as sexual arousal. Most women with PCOS tend to feel a dull ache on both sides of their abdomen throughout their cycles – although Mittelschmerz is very specific to ovulation and isn’t experienced by all women who have irregular periods.

Does ovulation pain mean the egg is released?

When you are experiencing menstrual ovulation cramps, it means that an egg cell has developed on one side of your ovary, and it’s about to descend to its resting place in the uterus via the fallopian tube. The position where this egg cell is situated inside your body determines what type of symptoms you’re going to have when this process takes place, like abdominal or lower stomach cramps or even back pains, depending on how bad they are. Remember that ovulation cramping can also be confused with other pains like pulled muscles, UTI (urinary tract infection), or even appendicitis.

If you experience any of the following symptoms as well, it’s essential to see a doctor immediately:

  • You have abdominal pain that is getting worse and severe.

Although menstrual cramps don’t guarantee infertility, it’s still better to make sure this isn’t your problem before doing anything else. Also, if the abdominal pain is accompanied by vomiting or diarrhea, please call your doctor immediately! One of these two problems could lead to dehydration and/or, worst-case scenario, an ectopic pregnancy!

  • Your lower back hurts, and it gets worse when you bend or straighten up.

If this is happening, you will want to get good treatment for endometriosis. Endometriosis is an inflammatory disorder where tissue that behaves like the uterus lining (endometrium) begins growing and adhering in places outside the uterus – most commonly on ovaries, fallopian tubes, and other pelvic organs. The pain from endometriosis can be very severe, with some women describing it as worse than labor pains! To diagnose endometriosis, a doctor will perform an ultrasound exam looking specifically at your ovaries and uterus, as well as laparoscopy to look inside these organs for damage.

How long does ovulation pain last before you ovulate?

The pain from ovulation usually begins at about the same time you get your period. Your uterus will simultaneously go through a series of contractions and changes to prepare for pregnancy while also releasing an egg. Ovulation pain can last anywhere from 5-9 days, depending on the woman. If you have moderate endometriosis, the cramping can be very similar to what you’d imagine labor pains to feel like (except not as long). But if you only have mild endometriosis symptoms, then the intensity and length of ovulation pain may only be slightly more intense than menstrual cramps.

Do you still get ovulation pains if you have conceived?

Most women will experience ovulation pains even if they have conceived. The only difference is that the pain may be slightly less severe, or you might not feel it at all. On average, the length of ovulation cramps for pregnant women can last anywhere from 5-7 days, so again, similar to menstrual cramping.

As you can see, these symptoms are very similar to menstrual cramping, which can make it hard to tell what’s what if you’ve never experienced either before. I suggest feeling out your body and keeping a journal for yourself so that you’ll know when each occurs and how long they typically last for you in future years. If your period isn’t coming on time as usual and/or your temperatures don’t show any signs of a rise, then you may be pregnant!

Is the day of ovulation too late to conceive?

The truth of the matter is, it’s never really too late! Even if you think that ovulation day has already passed and your window has closed for this month, there is still a chance for pregnancy. Women are typically fertile from the first day of their ovulation up until the end of their cycle, so regardless of which week you’re in during menstruation – there’s still a chance to get pregnant! However, it’s much more likely that you will fall pregnant early on when compared to later on in your cycle because, as mentioned above – progesterone (the hormone responsible for maintaining pregnancy) is at its peak right around ovulation.

What indicates that conception has occurred?

The most vital sign confirming that conception has occurred is the woman’s missed period. Only in retrospect, however, can it be known with certainty that a woman was pregnant at any particular time. It takes an average of twenty-eight days for the embryo to develop from conception to implantation. Another five or six weeks before pregnancy can be detected through a physical examination or blood test. If ovulation occurs on day fourteen following the first day of the menstrual cycle, then conception would have taken place eleven or twelve days earlier, on about day three. However, this is always subject to error because ovulation may occur later than usual due to illness, stress, or other factors affecting luteinizing hormone release.

Can you feel yourself getting pregnant?

Yes. Many women look forward to positive proof that they are pregnant even before a blood pregnancy test is carried out. The first signs of pregnancy are often connected with changes in the menstrual cycle and can begin as early as several days after conception. It is pretty standard for women to have sore breasts or other symptoms indicating the onset of menstruation before their periods arrive. This occurs because an egg released from the ovary at ovulation develops into a small mass called a corpus luteum. Suppose no fertilized egg is implanted within this area. In that case, it helps regulate another period. Still, if implantation occurs, this process prevents further production of osteogeny and progesterone hormones associated with menstruation and instead makes the hormones necessary for carrying a fetus to term.

Since implantation is such an essential part of preventing pregnancy from occurring, some home tests are designed to detect the presence or absence of this process. The confirmation of a positive test result suggests that conception has already taken place. It should be used with other methods when determining what type of birth control method may be appropriate. On the other hand, if a negative result is obtained, women would still consider using another form of protection since changes in menstruation can also occur after conception occurs.

How do you know if you’ve ovulated?

If you’re wondering if you’ve ovulated, then one of the easiest ways to tell is by observing changes in your body. While a bit more obvious, these changes include things like:

The cervical mucus turns from thin and clear (usually referred to as egg-white mucus) into thick and cloudy (or what looks more like raw egg white) within the first day or two after you menstruate

The appearance of a bloody vaginal discharge, although it may take up to five days after ovulation for this to begin. An increase in basal body temperature from menstruation until ovulation occurs (which is usually at about Day 14). A kit body basal temperature is important since it can help you to measure the increase in temperature by recording it in the body basal temperature chart.  

While these are all signs that ovulation has occurred, keep in mind that women with PCOS often do not experience them.

Is there any point in taking Ovulation Tests?

Yes, if you want to ensure total accuracy in predicting ovulation, you may want to try and test for it. The tests can be purchased at a pharmacy. However, there are two types – the urine variety that requires you to collect your urine over six hours after first thing in the morning (this will allow time for travel from your bladder to your vagina), and saliva varieties which require that you take the test before rising for the day.

Does taking an Ovulation Test mean I have PCOS?

Not necessarily! The majority of women with PCOS experience regular cycles and premenstrual syndrome as well…and many do not suffer from infertility issues or excess androgen production.

How early can an Ovulation Test detect ovulation?

The test can only be used to calculate the day of ovulation once you are already on your way into your most fertile phase – which usually begins two days before you ovulate! Because ovulation is a 24-hour process, it takes place over 12-24 hours, so if you find yourself testing four times in one day…don’t panic! It simply means that your body is about to release an egg, and it may take anywhere from eight to twenty-four hours for that egg to wholly mature and leave your body.

Can ovulation pain help predict the timing of ovulation?

The answer is no. Some women will experience ovulation pain because of the rupture of the ovarian follicle, but only about 50% of women and the symptoms can vary from woman to woman. The fertile phase typically begins two days before ovulation, so if you are going by your body cues, it’s best not to rely on ovulation pain alone.


Women do ovulate and experience pain. If you are looking for pinpoint ovulation, then don’t look at your pain alone. Fertility Charting should always be a part of your fertility routine as it gives you much more information on when and how often you ovulate.


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