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Endometriosis Ovulation Pain: Why It Happens and How to Manage It

Medically reviewed by: Melissa A. Delgado, MD, FACOG

Melissa A. Delgado, MD, FACOG is the founder and owner of The Chronic Pelvic Pain Center of Northern Virginia. Dr. Delgado is an experienced, board-certified OB/GYN and has spent the past 10 years dedicating her time to understanding complex and persistent pelvic pain.

A photo of a woman holding her lower abdomen in pain laying down on a couch.
Image Source: Sora Shimazaki via Pexels

If you're a woman who experiences menstrual cramps or pain, you're not alone.

Many women experience discomfort during ovulation. For some, it can be severe. And if you have endometriosis, ovulation pain can be particularly challenging.

In this article, we'll explore the causes of ovulation pain, how endometriosis could impact menstrual pain, and how to manage it so you can still enjoy your life whenever it’s that time of the month again.

What Is Ovulation Pain?

Ovulation pain, also known as mittelschmerz, is a common experience for many women.

It can occur whenever the ovary releases an egg and can range from a mild ache to severe pain. Ovulation pain is usually felt on one side of the lower abdomen and can last anywhere from a few minutes to a few hours.

Understanding Endometriosis and Its Effect on Ovulation

A close-up photo of a woman holding a paper cutout depicting the uterus.
Image Source: Freepik

Endometriosis is a difficult, sometimes debilitating condition that impacts roughly 190 million women of reproductive age around the world, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).

Endometriosis occurs when the tissue that lines the uterus (called the endometrium) grows outside it. This extra tissue can cause pain and inflammation, particularly during menstruation.

For women living with endometriosis, ovulation pain can be more severe and last longer than for women without the condition. This is because endometriosis often leads to painful cysts and/or scarring over time.

Endometriosis can also affect fertility. Uncontrolled endometrial tissue growth can block the fallopian tubes, making it more difficult for the egg to travel to the uterus.

If you're trying to conceive and believe you might have endometriosis, it's important to speak with your doctor about your options.

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Other causes of severe ovulation pain

There are several potential causes of severe ovulation pain besides endometriosis. These might include:

Symptoms of Endometriosis Ovulation Pain

The symptoms of endometriosis ovulation pain can vary from woman to woman, but they typically include:

  • Severe pain on one side of the lower abdomen

  • Pain that lasts longer than usual ovulation pain

  • Pain during or after sex

  • Heavy bleeding during periods

  • Painful bowel movements or urination

If you're experiencing any of these symptoms, it may be time to seek specialized care. An endometriosis specialist can assess your symptoms and recommend treatment options.

How to Manage Endometriosis Ovulation Pain

Managing endometriosis ovulation pain can be challenging, but there are several options available. Here are some tips:

  • Over-the-counter pain relief: Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as ibuprofen or naproxen, can help relieve pain and reduce inflammation.

  • Heat therapy: Applying heat to the lower abdomen can help relax the muscles and relieve pain.

  • Gentle exercise: Light exercise, like walking or yoga, can help relieve pain and reduce stress.

  • Relaxation techniques: Meditation, deep breathing, and other relaxation techniques can help reduce stress and relieve pain.

  • Dietary changes: Some women find that dietary changes, such as reducing caffeine or alcohol intake, can help reduce pain.

  • Drinking herbal tea: Chamomile, ginger, and peppermint teas have all been reported to help women relax tense muscles and reduce pain, including ovulation pain.

  • Using essential oils: Lavender, sage, and peppermint oil are all known to help reduce pain and promote therapeutic relaxation.

Medications for endometriosis ovulation pain

Of course, there are also more traditional treatment methods. If home remedies and lifestyle changes aren't effective, your doctor may recommend prescription medication to help manage endometriosis ovulation pain.

Medications for ovulation pain may include:

  • Hormonal birth control: This type of medication is commonly prescribed to regulate your menstrual cycle and alleviate pain associated with ovulation. By controlling hormone levels, it helps reduce the intensity of discomfort.

  • Gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH) agonists: These drugs work by suppressing ovulation, effectively reducing the pain experienced during this phase of the menstrual cycle. By inhibiting the release of certain hormones, they provide relief from ovulation-related pain.

  • Progestin therapy: This form of treatment involves the administration of progestin, a synthetic hormone similar to progesterone. Progestin therapy can effectively alleviate pain and also slow down the growth of endometrial tissue, which may contribute to the reduction of pain symptoms. It works by creating a hormonal environment that discourages the excessive growth and shedding of endometrial tissue, reducing pain.

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Alternative treatments for ovulation pain

In addition to medication, there are several alternative treatments that can help manage ovulation pain:

  • Chiropractic care: Chiropractic care offers a non-invasive approach to managing ovulation pain. By addressing spinal misalignments that may contribute to discomfort, chiropractors can provide pain relief and support the body's natural healing processes.

  • Massage therapy: Massage therapy is another alternative treatment option for managing ovulation pain. By targeting the soft tissues, such as muscles, tendons, and ligaments, massage therapy can help alleviate tension and improve blood circulation, providing relief from ovulation pain.

  • Mind-body techniques: Mind-body techniques, including meditation, yoga, and other practices, can be effective in managing ovulation pain. By reducing stress levels in a healthy way, you can help reduce ovulation-related discomfort and promote a sense of relaxation and well-being.

  • Acupuncture: This traditional Chinese medicine has been around for thousands of years for a reason. Stimulating specific points on the body in acupuncture, which have been tied to the connective tissue of the fascia network, can help reduce pain and promote relaxation.

It's important to note that alternative treatments should be discussed with a healthcare professional to ensure they are appropriate for your specific situation. They can often complement medical interventions and provide additional support for managing ovulation pain.

When to See a Doctor for Severe Ovulation Pain

If you're experiencing severe ovulation pain, it's almost never a good sign. While it could be temporary and not a sign of deeper problems, it’s always better to be safe than sorry.

Consult with your doctor as soon as you can. They can help determine the cause of your ovulation pain and recommend appropriate treatment options.

You should also see your doctor if:

  • The ovulation pain is getting worse over time

  • You're experiencing heavy bleeding or discharge

  • You have a fever or chills during your menstrual cycle

  • You're having trouble conceiving over repeated attempts to get pregnant

If you're experiencing severe ovulation pain, don't suffer in silence. Speak with your doctor and explore your treatment options.

Find Lasting Relief From Ovulation Pain

You shouldn't have to accept severe menstrual pain as just a part of life.

Dr. Delgado at The CPP Center specializes in treating pelvic pain, endometriosis, and their accompanying conditions and symptoms. Combining expert treatments and holistic therapies, Dr. Delgado helps her patients find lasting relief and healing.


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