World renowned expert on women’s health and founder of Women’s Health America Marla Ahlgrimm answers questions about reproductive and sexual health.
Q: What types of women suffer from painful ovulation?
Marla Ahlgrimm: Any woman who has reached the age of menses may suffer from painful ovulation. This may be each month or erratic and unpredictable.
Q: What are the causes of painful ovulation?
Marla Ahlgrimm: There is no definitive answer for this question. Many reproductive health experts believe that painful ovulation is caused by the abdominal cavity lining becoming irritated during the release of blood and other fluids associated with ovulation.
Q: What happens when the body absorbs the fluids released during ovulation?
Marla Ahlgrimm: The theory is that ovulation pain subsides once this happens.
Q: When does ovulation occur?
Marla Ahlgrimm: Ovulation occurs approximately two weeks after the first day of a woman’s menstrual cycle.
Q: How will my doctor determine if my menstrual pain is related to ovulation?
Marla Ahlgrimm: Your doctor may ask you to keep a detailed chart of your menstrual cycle. You will be asked to note the location, severity, and timing of any pain. Additionally, your doctor may wish to perform a pelvic and abdominal exam.
Q: What are other possible causes of pain?
Marla Ahlgrimm: Other causes of painful ovulation include ovarian cysts and endometriosis.
Q: What is endometriosis?
Marla Ahlgrimm: This is a painful condition where the endometrial tissue – the uterine lining –– grows outside of the uterus.
Q: What is an ovarian cyst?
Marla Ahlgrimm: An ovarian cyst is a mucous membrane filled with fluid and located on one or both ovaries.
Q: What is the difference between ovulation pain and ovarian cyst-related pain?
Marla Ahlgrimm: Cysts may result in a dull ache that radiates from the lower back to the thighs and typically begins just prior to the onset of menstruation. Women with ovarian cysts may only feel pain during sexual intercourse and experience symptoms similar to pregnancy, such as tender breast and nausea.
Q: How long does painful ovulation last?
Marla Ahlgrimm: Most women report that pain subsides within 24 hours.
Q: Can I take an over-the-counter pain reliever to prevent pain?
Marla Ahlgrimm: Otherwise healthy women may consider the use of pain medications, including ibuprofen and naproxen, to relieve discomfort. Ovulation pain can only be prevented by taking birth control to stop the process altogether.
Q: What are the side effects related to birth control?
Marla Ahlgrimm: Side effects vary from woman to woman but may include weight gain, headache, or depression.
Q: Should I avoid certain forms of birth control?
Marla Ahlgrimm: Women with a past history of blood clots may want to avoid the use of certain types of birth control.
Q: When should I contact my doctor regarding painful ovulation?
Marla Ahlgrimm: You should call your doctor if you have missed one or more periods, have a fever, pain during urination or that last longer than a day, or nausea.