Skip to main content

Health Encyclopedia

Search the Health Encyclopedia

Mittelschmerz

Definition

Mittelschmerz is one-sided, lower abdominal pain that affects some women. It occurs at or around the time of an egg is released from the ovaries (ovulation).

Alternative Names

Ovulation pain; Midcycle pain

Causes

1 in 5 women have pain around the time of ovulation. This is called mittelschmerz. The pain may occur just before, during, or after ovulation.

This pain can be explained in several ways. Just before the ovulation, the growth of the follicle where the egg develops may stretch the surface of the ovary. This can cause pain. At the time of ovulation, fluid or blood is released from the ruptured egg follicle. This may irritate lining of the abdomen.

Symptoms

Mittelschmerz may be felt on one side of the body during one month and then switch to the other side during the next month. It may also occur on the same side for many months in a row.

Symptoms include lower-abdominal pain that:

  • Occurs only on one side
  • Goes on for minutes to a few hours. It can last up to 24 to 48 hours.
  • Feels like a sharp, cramping pain unlike other pain
  • Severe (rare)
  • May switch sides from month to month
  • Begins midway through the menstrual cycle

Exams and Tests

A pelvic exam shows no problems. Other tests (such as an abdominal ultrasound or transvaginal pelvic ultrasound) may be done to look for other causes of ovarian or pelvic pain. These tests may be done if the pain is ongoing.

Treatment

Most of the time treatment is not needed. Pain relievers may be needed if the pain is intense or lasts a long time.

Outlook (Prognosis)

Mittelschmerz can be painful, but it is not harmful. It is not a sign of disease. It may help women to be aware of the time in the menstrual cycle when the egg is released. It is important for you to discuss any pain you are having with your health care provider. There are other conditions that can cause similar pain that are much more serious and require treatment.

Possible Complications

Most of the time there are no complications.

When to Contact a Medical Professional

Call your health care provider if:

  • Ovulation pain seems to change.
  • Pain lasts longer than usual.
  • Pain occurs with vaginal bleeding.

Prevention

Birth control pills can be taken to prevent ovulation. This can help reduce pain that is linked to ovulation.

References

Kelerman RD. Women's health. In: Kellerman RD, ed. Conn's Current Therapy 2015. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2015:chap 17.

Won HR, Abbott J. Optimal management of chronic cyclical pelvic pain: an evidence-based and pragmatic approach. Int J Women's Health. 2010;2:263-77. PMID: 21151732 www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21151732.

Review Date:5/9/2015
Reviewed By:Cynthia D. White, MD, Fellow American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, Group Health Cooperative, Bellevue, WA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Isla Ogilvie, PhD, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.

The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed medical professional should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Call 911 for all medical emergencies. Links to other sites are provided for information only -- they do not constitute endorsements of those other sites. © 1997-A.D.A.M., Inc. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.

adam.com

The Agency for Health Care Administration (Agency) and this website do not claim the information on, or referred to by, this site is error free. This site may include links to websites of other government agencies or private groups. Our Agency and this website do not control such sites and are not responsible for their content. Reference to or links to any other group, product, service, or information does not mean our Agency or this website approves of that group, product, service, or information.

Additionally, while health information provided through this website may be a valuable resource for the public, it is not designed to offer medical advice. Talk with your doctor about medical care questions you may have.

Health
Outcome Data

No data available for this condition/procedure.

Health Encyclopedia

More Features

We Appreciate Your Feedback!
1. Did you find this information useful?
         Yes
         No
2. Would you recommend this website to family and friends?
         Yes
         No