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What Is Mittelschmerz (Ovulation Pain)?

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You're probably well aware of the stomach and back pains that can come along with your period — thank god for heating pads and chocolate! However, you may also experience pain or discomfort for the one or two days that you're ovulating, aka the time when you can get pregnant. We know, you already suffered through three to seven days of pain, so why again? We talked with Stephanie Long, MD, a family medicine physician at OneMedical and one of the district medical directors at the SoMA Clinic in San Francisco, to find out what's really going on that causes mittelschmerz, more commonly referred to as ovulation pain.

Ovulation usually occurs about halfway between two periods, which is about 14 days into a cycle. And for some women, it's a burden. "[The pain is] not uncommon, and I definitely have women who have it and ask about it, but not everyone should be having it," Long said. The good news is that if you are a woman who experiences discomfort, any discomfort is typically dull and lasts no more than a day or so.

The typical period cramp relievers, like ibuprofen and a heating pad, can help if you have mittelschmerz. In the case that the discomfort is more noticeable, anything that suppresses ovulation could alleviate the aches. "Any birth control method would help — like the pill, the NuvaRing, the Nexplanon arm implant — suppress ovulation," Long explained. But keep in mind that nonhormonal methods, like the IUD, would not help.


If pain during ovulation isn't normal to your typical cycle in the first place, Long suggests talking to your provider to rule out more serious explanations. If the pain is interfering with everyday activities, that could be a sign of another condition — such as an ovarian cyst, endometriosis, or pregnancy.

When in doubt, ask your doctor. Trust us, there isn't any question they haven't already heard!

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