There are many different conditions that can affect women and some of them are due to hormones and menstruation. Sometimes these conditions can be debilitating and painful which might disrupt your daily activities. One of these medical conditions that can affect women is called mittelschmerz, and it can be a very painful medical condition.
Mittelschmerz is a condition that is known to affect women, primarily about 14 days before a menstrual cycle. Sometimes a couple weeks before a menstrual cycle, lower back pain and abdominal pain might occur. Mittelschmerz is a German word that means “middle pain” and this is when you get pain in your abdomen with ovulation. Mittelschmerz can be debilitating and lead to complications doing daily activities while ovulation occurs. There are a variety of symptoms associated with mittelschmerz, so it is important to keep track of which symptoms you have.
One of the most common symptoms of mittelschmerz is sharp pain in one-side of the abdomen or lower back. The pain might end up switching sides each time ovulation occurs, so one month it might be on the right and the next month on the left. Mittelschmerz might also be felt on the same side of the abdomen for an extended period of time such as on the left side for several months in a row. Wherever the ovulation is occurring at will be the side where the mittelschmerz occurs. The pain might only last a few hours or it could last a few days. The pain is usually described as a dull ache similar to a menstrual cramp or it could also come on suddenly and sharply. The pain might also appear with some light vaginal bleeding or discharge. Sometimes mittelschmerz can come on very severely, but these are rare occasions. The location and time of the pain can often help you figure out whether or not it is caused by mittelschmerz. If you think you have mittelschmerz, you should be keeping track of your menstrual cycle and ovulation to see if the pain occurs around the time of ovulation. If the pain you experience in the abdomen occurs about 14 days into your cycle consistently, then it is probably mittelschmerz. It is also important to know what causes mittelschmerz so that you can be more aware of your body and how you might be affected by the abdominal pain.
When estrogen is released during menstruation, this causes the uterine lining to thicken up each month. The uterine lining thickens so that it would be a good environment for a fertilized egg, then a follicle containing a single egg is released. When this egg releases you have ovulation, which is the right time to try to conceive a child. If the egg does not become fertilized by sperm then it will pass through your uterus out of the body, which is menstruation. Mittelschmerz will occur during the ovulation, which is when the follicle ruptures and the egg is released toward the uterus. About 20% of women experience some pain or discomfort during ovulation and it can occur every month or rarely. Mittelschmerz can develop in any age and could be seen during puberty or later in life when hormone changes start to take place. Any woman who is going through a menstrual cycle is at risk for the condition, which is why it is so common.
Although mittelschmerz has an unknown cause, it is thought that several different things might play a role in the painful condition. Before the egg releases during ovulation, the follicle growth will stretch the surface of your ovary. When the follicle stretches the ovary, it could cause mild discomfort or pain for hours or days. The blood released from the ruptured follicle might also be irritating the lining of the abdomen. If you have other pain during your menstrual cycle, then it is not caused by mittelschmerz. Mittelschmerz will only occur during the ovulation phase and will not occur after the egg is released from the body. The pain could also be a result of other abdominal or vaginal conditions so it is important to seek medical attention whenever you have persistent pain around your menstrual cycle. Once you or your doctor have confirmed you are suffering from mittelschmerz, you can then begin a treatment plan that is right for you.
Mittelschmerz will cause mild pain or discomfort so the best treatment is over-the-counter pain medication such as acetaminophen, aspirin or ibuprofen. Sometimes the pain might actually be severe enough to interfere with daily activities, in which case you need to talk to your doctor about other options. If mittelschmerz is occurring every month, then you might want to talk to your doctor about going on birth control. Birth control will prevent ovulation which will prevent mittelschmerz from happening all together. If you do not want to take birth control then you might also ask your doctor about stronger pain medication such as opiates. Soaking in a hot bath is also a way to help relieve the pain associated with your ovulation and can help increase blood flow and circulation. Using a heating pad on the side of your abdomen where the pain is might also help decrease the severity of the pain and can help relax tense muscles. Most of the time you can find relief using the same products you would for normal menstrual cramps. If the pain is persistent for an extended period of time or it happens for several months, you should consult a doctor for further treatment. Since pain in your abdomen and vagina can be caused by a variety of medical conditions, you should always seek medical help to make sure the pain is not caused by something more serious.
Women who have mittelschmerz can usually find comfort in the types of treatments they use to help with menstrual pain and it is not a life-threatening condition. A woman who has mittelschmerz should keep track of the pain such as when it occurs and the duration, so that they can let their doctor know if they think something is wrong. A lot of women have mittelschmerz and might not even know it because they think it is cramps or just a stomach virus. The most important thing to do is alert your doctor if you think something is wrong or if the pain is persistent for an extended period of time.
Mayo Clinic Staff, “Mittelschmerz”, Mayo Clinic