When you are trying for a baby, it is normal to be increasingly aware of any discomfort or changes in abdominal sensation that might occur during your menstrual cycle. You may even begin to make a connection between abdominal sensations and when you may be ovulating.
If you’re thinking about trying for a baby, or have been trying for a while, you will probably be looking to understand a bit more about what’s going on during your menstrual cycle. In addition to wanting to know what abdominal symptoms are ‘normal’ and what could be a cause for concern, you may also want to know how to optimise your chances of conception within your cycle.
This article will take you through why you might experience pain or discomfort during ovulation, and how the sensation of ovulation may help you understand more about your ‘fertile window’.
What is ovulation pain?
Ovulation is the process by which an egg is released from the ovary, before migrating into the fallopian tube. Ovulation typically occurs around 14 days before menstruation starts. So, for example, in a typical 28-day cycle, ovulation would usually occur around day 14. You can use an ovulation kit to monitor your ovulation.
As with any menstrual symptom, ovulation pain can vary between individuals from a mild or dull ache, to a more severe pain that can last several hours. The pain will typically be on one side of your abdomen, depending on which ovary has released the egg. Whilst abdominal sensations may vary, if there is a notable change around 12-14 days before you expect to get your period, it may be linked to ovulation.
Why do you get ovulation pain?
Within the ovaries there are small fluid filled structures, called follicles, each containing an egg. As follicles grow, they secrete the hormone estrogen, which develops the lining of the womb and nurtures the developing egg within. Once the largest follicle that month gets to a certain size, it ruptures and releases both the fluid inside it and the egg into the abdominal cavity. This rupture and release of fluid from the follicle can irritate nerves on the surface of the ovary and in that area of the abdomen, giving you the pain or discomfort you may feel.
What does ovulation pain mean about your fertility window?
Once the egg has been released from its follicle during ovulation, it can generally survive for further 24 hours. For this reason, if you were to wait until you feel the sensation of ovulation to have sex, it may be too late for the egg to be fertilised by the time the sperm get to where they need to be.
Therefore, whilst making note of your ovulation pain is a valuable exercise in keeping track of your menstrual cycle, we would recommend optimising your ‘fertile window’ by attempting conception in the days leading up to, as well as including, your ovulation date. This will ensure healthy sperm, which can survive for 5 days, are present in the fallopian tubes at the time the egg is released.
Other causes of pain during your menstrual cycle which may impact your fertility, could include ovarian cysts or endometriosis. As such, if the pain or discomfort during your cycle is severe or affecting your day-to-day activity, we recommend seeking medical advice to ensure that there aren’t any possible alternative causes or complications.
If you are currently trying to conceive and are worried about any aspect of your fertility or unusual abdominal symptoms, get in touch with our experienced patient support team on 0333 240 7300.