Mittelschmerz occurs in some women approximately two weeks before they are due to start menstruating and it is also called painful ovulation. The pain is usually mild, but some women have intense pain for several hours.When the ovary releases an egg, the membrane on the outside of the ovary expands and this action causes pain. Blood is also discharged as the egg leaves the ovary. The blood inflames the abdominal tissues and this can also cause a person to feel pain.
Women who experience mittelschmerz will feel pain in their lower abdomen halfway through a menstrual cycle. This pain will be felt on one side of the abdomen during each month but the specific side that is painful can change with each cycle.
The pain that is felt is often described as sharp and the abdomen will cramp. The duration of the pain varies for each individual and some women will have pain for only a few minutes, while others may cramp for as long as two days. Women should consult with a physician if they have a high fever, vomiting, painful urination or a burning sensation on their skin where they feel the abdominal pain.
Mittelschmerz is the German word meaning “middle pain.” It is a condition that occurs in up to 20% of all women and happens during ovulation. It happens during ovulation, when the follicle ruptures. Its exact cause is unknown, but there are a couple of suspected culprits. One potential source of pain is that blood is released from the follicle prior to and during the release of the egg and that fluid irritates the lining of the abdomen resulting in pain. A second reason may be that the follicle growth that occurs before the egg is released stretches the ovary and that causes the severe pain. Mittelschmerz is more than just normal cramping and tenderness often associated with menstrual pain. It is recurrent and severe.
Women who suffer from mittelschmerz can treat this condition by taking a store bought pain reliever. Heat may help to alleviate the pain and individuals can place a heating pad on the lower portion of their stomach or soak in a bath of warm water. Physicians often prescribe birth control pills for women who have very painful ovulation each month. These pills put an end to the pain by stopping the occurrence of ovulation.
Women who have constant pain in this area of their body should visit a medical professional and schedule an ultrasound to find out if other health issues are causing the pain.
Mittelschmerz itself cannot really be prevented as the physiological condition that causes it is not really understood. However, the symptoms can be prevented through a few different measures. Regular exercise can mitigate some of the effects of Mittelschmerz, probably because it helps maintain better circulation and blood flow, as well as strengthening the abdominal muscles which may lessen the severity of the pain. For women who know that they suffer from Mittelschmerz, using anti-inflammatory medications and pain relievers prophylactically before the condition begins can prevent the onset of the pain and cramping. A healthy lifestyle that includes a balanced diet, exercise, plenty of rest and good stress management can also help keep Mittelschmerz in check and reduce its severity. Use of oral contraception has been shown to lessen the severity of actual menstruation and its associated symptoms and may lessen pain from Mittelschmerz as well. Because regular and severe Mittelschmerz can be an early indicator of more serious conditions including endometriosis, good gynecologic care is essential in preventing significant complications including the loss of fertility.