It would be nice if your body had a built in signal light to indicate when you are ovulating. The next best thing might be to reliably feel ovulation every month. Unless, of course, ovulation was painful.
About 20% of women say that they can feel ovulation. The medical term for feeling ovulation is Mittelschmerz. It is a German word meaning “middle pain”. It is often misspelled, you may have seen it written as Middleschmertz, Middlesmertz or Mittlesmertz. Regardless of the spelling, it simply means you can feel ovulation.
Mittelschmerz ovulation pain can vary from a slight twinge to painful menstrual-like cramping. It can last for a few hours around ovulation or continue for several days. You may feel ovulation on one side of your body and not the other, and the side you feel it on may change from month to month. Typically only one of your ovaries releases an egg each cycle, and that is the side on which you feel ovulation. Mittelschmerz is often felt mid menstrual cycle, between day 12 and day 15 in a normal 28 day cycle.
Ovulation pain is felt in the lower abdomen and pelvic area. It is not harmful and does not indicate a problem. You can relieve ovulation pain with over the counter analgesics, a heating pad on your abdomen, or warm baths. Mittelschmerz pain can be confused with appendicitis or other less serious and common abdominal issues such as gas or indigestion. If your ovulation pain is severe or prolonged, please call your doctor.
It is not entirely clear what causes Mittelschmerz nor why some women can feel it while most cannot. The mature egg rupturing from the follicle, contractions of the fallopian tubes, or fluid from the ruptured follicle irritating the abdominal wall are all suggested causes for ovulation pain. If you aren’t trying to conceive and are bothered by Mittelschmerz, your doctor can prescribe birth control pills to cease your monthly ovulation.
If you are trying to conceive, Mittelschmerz ovulation pain is probably not a reliable sign of fertility. You may feel ovulation only after the egg has been released, which is not the best timing for sex when trying to get pregnant. If you wait to have sex until you can feel ovulation, your chance to get pregnant may have already passed.
However, if you chart your Mittelschmerz ovulation pain for several months, you may start to see a pattern that could help you conceive faster. For example, if you notice Mittelschmerz:
- Day 12 on Month 1
- Day 14 on Month 2
- Day 13 on Month 3
You can guess that you are probably ovulating no earlier then Day 11. To increase your chances of getting pregnant, have sex every day (or every other day) a few days prior to Day 11 and for a few days following Day 14.
The best way to use ovulation pain as a sign of fertility is to combine it with other signs of fertility including your basal body temperature and cervical mucus. Don’t be concerned if you never feel ovulation, it certainly doesn’t mean you are not fertile. Most women do not experience Mittelschmerz at all, even when they ovulate regularly.
Do you know when you are most fertile? Click to find out how to recognize your most fertile days.