Classification and external resources
ICD-10 N94
ICD-9 625.2
DiseasesDB 8310

Mittelschmerz (German: "middle pain") is a medical term for "ovulation pain" or "midcycle pain". About 20% of women experience mittelschmerz, some every cycle, some intermittently.


Symptoms and diagnosis

Mittelschmerz is characterized by lower abdominal and pelvic pain that occurs roughly midway through a woman's menstrual cycle. The pain can appear suddenly and usually subsides within hours, although it may sometimes last two or three days.[1] In some cases it can last up to the following cycle. In some women, the mittelschmerz is localized enough so that they can tell which of their two ovaries provided the egg in a given month. Because ovulation occurs on a random ovary each cycle, the pain may switch sides or stay on the same side from one cycle to another.

Diagnosis of mittelschmerz is generally made if a woman is mid-cycle and a pelvic examination shows no abnormalities. If the pain is prolonged and/or severe, other diagnostic procedures such as an abdominal ultrasound may be performed to rule out other causes of abdominal pain.

The pain of mittelschmerz is sometimes mistaken for appendicitis and is one of the differential diagnoses for appendicitis in women of child-bearing age.


The pain is not harmful and does not signify the presence of disease. No treatment is usually necessary. Pain relievers (analgesics) may be needed in cases of prolonged or intense pain.

Hormonal forms of contraception can be taken to prevent ovulation -- and therefore ovulatory pain -- but otherwise there is no known prevention.

Self Treatment for Mittelschmerz Pain

Self treatment is often the best way to alleviate cramps that you experience mid-cycle.

Here are some tried and tested[citation needed] ways of getting rid of those aches and pains.

Drink Water: Try to drink between six and eight glasses of water every day. Water will help to keep you hydrated, which will alleviate cramps.[citation needed]

Use a Heating Pad: Heat helps to soothe cramps. Get an electric heating pad and keep it on your abdomen for 15 minutes or so.[citation needed]

Take a Warm Bath: Fill your tub up with warm water and just relax. The heat of the water will help to relieve any pain.[citation needed]


Mittelschmerz is believed to have a variety of causes:

  • Follicular swelling: The swelling of follicles in the ovaries prior to ovulation. While only one or two eggs mature to the point of being released, a number of follicles grows during the follicular phase of the menstrual cycle (non-dominant follicles atrophy prior to ovulation). Because follicles develop on both sides, this theory explains mittelschmerz that occurs simultaneously on both sides of the abdomen.[2]
  • Ovarian wall rupture: The ovaries have no openings; at ovulation the egg breaks through the ovary's wall. This may make ovulation itself painful for some women.[2]
  • Fallopian tube contraction: After ovulation, the fallopian tubes contract (similar to peristalsis of the esophagus), which may cause pain in some women.[1]
  • Smooth muscle cell contraction: At ovulation, this pain may be related to smooth muscle cell contraction in the ovary as well as in its ligaments. These contractions occur in response to an increased level of prostaglandin F2-alpha, itself mediated by the surge of luteinizing hormone (LH).[3]
  • Irritation: At the time of ovulation, blood or other fluid is released from the ruptured egg follicle. This fluid may cause irritation of the abdominal lining.[1][2]


Women charting with some form of fertility awareness may find mittelschmerz to be a helpful secondary sign in detecting ovulation. Because normal sperm life is up to five days, however, mittelschmerz alone does not provide sufficient advance warning to avoid pregnancy. Because other causes of minor abdominal pain are common, mittelschmerz alone also cannot be used to confirm the beginning of the post-ovulatory infertile period.[1][2]

Other ovulation symptoms

Women may notice other physical symptoms associated with their mittelschmerz, or near ovulation. The most common sign is the appearance of fertile cervical mucus in the days leading up to ovulation. Cervical mucus is one of the primary signs used by various fertility awareness methods. Other symptoms are sometimes called secondary fertility signs to distinguish from the three primary signs.[2]

  • Mid-cycle or ovulatory bleeding is thought to result from the sudden drop in estrogen that occurs just before ovulation. This drop in hormones can trigger withdrawal bleeding in the same way that switching from active to placebo birth control pills does. The rise in hormones that occurs after ovulation prevents such mid-cycle spotting from becoming as heavy or long lasting as a typical menstruation. Spotting is more common in longer cycles.[2]
  • A woman's vulva may swell just prior to ovulation, especially the side on which ovulation will occur.[2]
  • One of the groin lymph nodes (on the side on which ovulation will occur) will swell to about the size of a pea, and may become tender.[2]


  1. ^ a b c d Kippley, John; Sheila Kippley (1996). The Art of Natural Family Planning (4th Edition ed.). Cincinnati, OH: The Couple to Couple League. pp. 83–84. ISBN 0-926412-13-2. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h Weschler, Toni (2002). Taking Charge of Your Fertility (Revised Edition ed.). New York: HarperCollins. pp. 65–68, 228. ISBN 0-06-093764-5. 
  3. ^ Michael H. Ross, Wojciech Pawlina (2006). Histology: A Text and Atlas (5th ed. ed.). Hagerstown, MD: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins. pp. 788. ISBN 978-0-7817-7221-1. 

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  • Mittelschmerz — Mịt|tel|schmerz 〈m. 23〉 Schmerz an den Tagen der Ovulation zw. zwei Menstruationen * * * Mittelschmerz,   Intermenstrualschmerz, etwa in der Mitte des Menstruationszyklus bei der Frau auftretender, kurz dauernder Schmerz im Unterleib durch… …   Universal-Lexikon

  • mittelschmerz — /mit l shmairts /, n. dull abdominal pain occurring at the time of ovulation, attributed to the presence of free blood in the peritoneal cavity from the ruptured ovarian follicle. [1890 95; < G, equiv. to mittel mid , MIDDLE + Schmerz pain] * * * …   Universalium

  • Mittelschmerz — Pain in between the menstrual periods. From the German mittel for middle and schmerz for pain. * * * Abdominal pain occurring at the time of ovulation, resulting from irritation of the peritoneum by bleeding from the ovulation site. SYN:… …   Medical dictionary

  • Mittelschmerz — Mịttelschmerz: Unterleibsschmerz bei Frauen zum Zeitpunkt des Follikelsprungs (zwischen den Monatsblutungen) …   Das Wörterbuch medizinischer Fachausdrücke

  • mittelschmerz — mit·tel·schmerz …   English syllables

  • mittelschmerz — n. pain in the lower abdomen experienced about midway between successive menstrual periods, i.e. when the egg cell is being released from the ovary. See also: menstrual cycle …   The new mediacal dictionary

  • mittelschmerz — /ˈmɪtlʃmɛəts/ (say mitlshmairts) noun a pain or sensation experienced about half way between menstrual periods by some women, thought to be associated with ovulation. {German: middle pain} …  

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