All About Periods

Ovulation Pain (Mittelschmerz) VS Menstrual Cramps: What’s The Difference?


Mittelschermz? Is that the name of some fancy German dish? Close enough. Referred to in the medical community as mittelschermz — German for “middle pain,” (how apt!)— Mittelschermz, also known as Ovulation cramps, are the pain some people feel mid-way through the menstrual cycle, approximately during the time of ovulation.


What exactly is Mittelshermz? What are the Causes?

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Mittelschmerz occurs during ovulation, when the follicle ruptures and releases its egg. Some woman experience mittelschmerz every month; others only experience it only occasionally.

This short-lived pain occurs during ovulation rather than during menstruation. While the official cause is unknown, it is speculated by doctors that the pain could be caused by anything from simple irritation to contractions in the fallopian tube and smooth muscle cell.


Some other possible causes include: .

  • Stretching of the surface of the ovary due to follicle growth just prior to egg-release during ovulation, causing pain.
  • Blood or fluid released from the ruptured follicle irritates the lining of your abdomen (peritoneum), leading to pain.


What is the difference between Mittelshermz and Menstrual cramps?

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Although ovulation pain and menstrual cramps (dysmenorrhea) are very similar and may feel the same, it should be noted that there are still slight differences, mainly the location and the time the pain is felt.

Pain at any other point in your menstrual cycle isn’t mittelschmerz. It may be normal menstrual cramping (dysmenorrhea) or it may be due to other abdominal or pelvic problems. If you experience severe abnormal abdominal pain, consult your doctor.


Symptoms or signs that you’re suffering from ovulation pain.

  • It’s one-sided. (But may switch sides from month to month)
  • It comes on suddenly and without warning.
  • It’s a sharp pain or cramping rather than a dull ache.
  • It often lasts only minutes, but may last a few hours or even up 24 hours.
  • It occurs about two weeks before your menstrual period starts.
  • It might be accompanied by mild vaginal bleeding or discharge


Prevention / Treatment

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For minor or brief ovulation pain, treatment is usually not necessary.

For pains that last more than a few minutes, over-the-counter pain relievers, such as ibuprofen (Motrin, Advil, and others) or naproxen (Aleve and others) will usually relieve the discomfort. Applying a heat patch to the site of the abdominal pain or taking a warm bath can also help. Heat therapy increases blood flow, which relaxes tense muscles and eases cramping of muscles.

If your ovulation pain happens every month and is particularly bothersome, hormonal contraception (birth control pills, patches, or the vaginal ring) is an option because it prevents ovulation. Without ovulation, you will not experience ovulation pain.

However, ovulation pain should not last more than 2 days. It may be a cause for concern if it does, as it could signify something more. If the cramps do not subside, consult a doctor to evaluate the root cause of the pains!

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Now that you know the difference between ovulation pain and menstrual cramps, you’ll be able to tell them apart when you experience them yourself and not get confused by the pains you feel!

I hope you’ve learnt something new today and I’ll see you again soon!


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