Ovulation pain

Ovulation pain is often normal and is another side affect linked to your periods.

Some women get a one-sided pain in their lower abdomen when they ovulate.

It happens about 14 days before your period when an ovary releases an egg as part of the menstrual cycle.

Symptoms of ovulation pain

The pain can be a dull cramp or a sharp and sudden twinge.

It's usually on either the left or right-hand side of your tummy depending on which ovary is releasing the egg.

It can last a few minutes or continue for a day or two. Some women notice a little vaginal bleeding when it happens.

Non-urgent advice: Talk to your GP if:

  • the pain is severe or you're worried
What we mean by severe pain

Severe pain

  • always there and so bad it's hard to think or talk
  • you cannot sleep
  • it's very hard to move, get out of bed, go to the bathroom, wash or dress

Moderate pain

  • always there
  • makes it hard to concentrate or sleep
  • you can manage to get up, wash or dress

Mild pain

  • comes and goes
  • is annoying but does not stop you doing things like going to work

It's a good idea to keep a diary before your visit. Let your GP know exactly when the pain starts during your menstrual cycle and how long it lasts.

Treatments for painful ovulation

Painful ovulation can usually be eased by soaking in a hot bath or taking an over-the-counter painkiller, such as paracetamol.

Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) like ibuprofen may also help. But you should not take them if you're trying to get pregnant as they can interfere with ovulation.

If you're in a lot of discomfort, talk to your GP about other treatment options.

Birth control methods, such as the contraceptive pill or contraceptive implant, can stop ovulation pain.

Causes of ovulation pain

The cause of ovulation pain is not fully known. One theory is that it is the egg breaking through the ovary wall. This releases a small amount of fluid (or sometimes a small amount of blood) that irritates nearby nerves.

Painful ovulation is common and usually harmless. But it can sometimes be a symptom of an underlying medical condition.

Some of the underlying causes can result in fertility problems.

These include:

Endometriosis

Endometriosis is an inflammatory disease that affects the ovaries and fallopian tubes. It can also cause pain during ovulation.

Scar tissue

If you've had surgery, scar tissue can cause ovulation pain by restricting the ovaries and surrounding areas.

Sexually transmitted infections (STIs)

STIs like chlamydia can cause inflammation and scarring around the fallopian tubes, leading to ovulation pain.

Talk to your GP if you are worried about any of these conditions.


Content supplied by the NHS and adapted for Ireland by the HSE

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This project has received funding from the Government of Ireland’s Sláintecare Integration Fund 2019 under Grant Agreement Number 123.

Page last reviewed: 8 July 2021
Next review due: 8 July 2024