SummaryRead the full fact sheet
- About one in five women experience pain during ovulation that can last from a few minutes to 48 hours.
- Ovulation pain is usually harmless, but can sometimes indicate various medical conditions such as endometriosis.
- See your GP (doctor) if your ovulation pain lasts longer than three days or is associated with other unusual menstrual symptoms, such as heavy bleeding.
Up to 40% of women experience pain during ovulation. Ovulation pain is usually harmless, but severe pain may indicate other health conditions. It’s good to know there are many practical ways to manage ovulation pain.
What is ovulation?
When does ovulation happen?
Ovulation usually happens once each month, around two weeks before your next period.
Ovulation does not happen if you are:
Some women do not ovulate regularly. This is common when you first start getting your periods. It can also happen during perimenopause (the lead-up to menopause). Hormone conditions can also affect ovulation (e.g. ).
Symptoms of ovulation pain
Up to 40% of women experience pain and discomfort during ovulation. The pain can last from a few minutes to 48 hours.
Women may experience different symptoms of ovulation pain, including uncomfortable pressure, twinges, sharp pains, cramps or strong pain in the lower abdomen.
What causes ovulation pain?
We don’t know exactly what causes ovulation pain, but it may be caused by:
- the surface of the ovary swelling before the egg is released
- the egg being released from a mature follicle (the sac containing an egg).
Getting a diagnosis
- blood tests
- swabs from the cervix for and other bacteria
- an abdominal
- a vaginal ultrasound (preferably at the time the pain is occurring)
- exploratory surgery (a or ‘keyhole’ surgery).
Managing ovulation pain
There are many practical ways to manage ovulation pain.
For example, you can:
- relax by having a warm bath, or rest in bed with a heat pack or hot water bottle
- use pain relief or period pain medication (e.g. anti-inflammatories) – ask your or for recommendations
- take the or other forms of , as they stop ovulation.
When to see your doctor
See your GP (doctor) if your ovulation pain lasts longer than three days or if it is associated with symptoms such as heavy bleeding or vaginal discharge.