What Is Ovulation Pain?

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Ovulation pain, or mittelschmerz, is an ache or pain—sometimes with discharge or spotting—that may be caused by blood and fluid from a rupture of a follicle on the ovary. It may also be caused by the fallopian tube contracting or the egg bursting from the follicle. One in five women experience pain during the time of ovulation.

Typical ovulation pain occurs around the middle of your cycle—day 14 in a 28-day cycle—and lasts anywhere from a few minutes to a couple of days.

It is most often felt low in the pelvis to one side, which may change each month, depending on which side the egg is released. Some people also experience nausea.

woman on bed with pillow in pain

LumiNola / Getty Images

Speak With Your Healthcare Provider

Alert your healthcare provider about any suspicious, severe, or prolonged pain. If you suspect you are pregnant, let your medical professional know right away.


Symptoms of ovulation pain include:

  • Mild to more intense pain that may be on one side
  • Nausea
  • Light bleeding or spotting
  • Vaginal discharge

The pain from ovulation is often described as dull and achy, but can also be sharp. It may grow gradually or be suddenly painful. Very rarely is the pain severe. If you experience pain around ovulation, be sure to keep a record of:

  • When you felt it
  • A description of the pain
  • Any other symptoms you have

Your healthcare provider can use these records to help determine the cause of your pain and possible treatment options.


Generally, ovulation pain is not a risk and is part of a regular cycle. It doesn’t affect your ability to become pregnant and may indicate to you when ovulation is occurring.

Your healthcare provider may perform tests such as:

  • Pelvic exam
  • Ultrasound
  • Blood test
  • Urine test

Signs of something more severe that require medical attention include:

  • Fever greater than 100.4 F
  • Severe pain mid-cycle lasting more than one day or occurs monthly
  • Missed periods
  • Intense nausea or vomiting
  • Pain upon urination or sex
  • Burning sensation or redness where the pain is felt
  • Pain that is not responding to over-the-counter pain relief medications


The causes of ovulation pain are still unclear, but there are a few theories:

  • Swelling or rupturing of a follicle on the ovary releases some extra fluid, which may lead to a dull ache.
  • The egg bursting out of the follicle can cause the sharp, sudden pain some people feel.
  • The pain is the result of spasms of the fallopian tubes or uterus as ovulation approaches.

Other pain around the time you think you are ovulating may point to other conditions, including:

It can be difficult to distinguish between implantation and ovulation pain. To do so, take note of the timing of your pain.

Timing of Pain
Implantation Pain Day 20 to 24
Ovulation Pain Day 14
*Based on a 28-day cycle

A Word From Verywell

Pain in your abdomen can be alarming and uncomfortable. Ovulation pain is not a health risk and can usually be managed with over-the-counter pain relievers. For any pain that you are concerned about, no matter how mild, speak to your healthcare provider. If you experience any of the serious warning signs—like heavy bleeding, nausea, or vomiting—call your healthcare provider or seek emergency medical care.

3 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. MedlinePlus. Mittelschmerz.

  2. Cleveland Clinic. Ovulation pain: symptoms, causes, and pain relief.

  3. Vigil P, Lyon C, Flores B, Rioseco H, Serrano F. Ovulation, a sign of healthLinacre Q. 2017;84(4):343-355. doi:10.1080/00243639.2017.1394053

By Rachel Macpherson
Rachel MacPherson is a health writer, certified personal trainer, and exercise nutrition coach based in Montreal.