Cramping After Ovulation: What Does It Mean and Is it a Sign of Pregnancy?

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Cramping After Ovulation: What Does It Mean and Is it a sign of Pregnancy?

Cramping after ovulation can occur as a regular part of your menstrual cycle, or it could mean that you are pregnant. Sometimes mid-cycle cramping can be connected with other issues related to your reproductive organs. Ovarian cysts, endometriosis, or pelvic congestion syndrome can all cause cramping between the end of ovulation and your next period.

Of course, cramping can happen at any time during your menstrual cycle. If you want to get pregnant, then looking for signs of cramping a week or so after ovulation can be an indicator or pregnancy.


Mid-cycle abdominal cramping is an unpleasant experience for most women. The cramps in your pelvic area are usually mild to severe, and cramping before your period can be especially painful. The tight squeezing contractions can cause enough discomfort to interfere with your daily activities.

In this article, you will find answers to questions like why you are cramping after ovulation, how long does ovulation pain last, and is post-ovulation cramping always a sign of pregnancy.

What Is Cramping?

Cramping is a short sharp pain that feels as if it comes and goes suddenly and unexpectedly. The medical name for menstrual cramping is dysmenorrhea. Usually, cramping associated with ovulation and your menstrual cycle is felt in your lower abdomen and feels like mild cramps.

Doctors from the Victoria State Government say that menstrual cramps often happen during or just after ovulation. The reasons for these spasm-like pains in your lower belly are when the follicle containing the egg stretches the ovary. You may also feel ovulation pain when the follicle ruptures to release the mature egg.1

Cramping immediately after ovulation can last for as short as a few minutes or you may continue feeling abdominal cramps up to 48 hours after ovulation.

Signs and Symptoms of Ovulation Cramping

Mild aches and pains that happen suddenly without warning are the most common symptom of ovulation cramping, however not all women experience the same symptoms.

According to doctors from the National Health Service, cramping that is a sign of ovulation usually happens about 2 weeks before your next period. Other symptoms of ovulation cramping can include:2

Doctors recommend keeping a menstrual diary to track your menstrual cycle. This can help to know if cramping is associated with ovulation or possibly connected to another underlying health issue. In some cases, if you still have severe pain after ovulation has ended, you should speak to your gynecologist.

Causes of Cramping and Abdominal Pain After Ovulation

Let’s look in more detail now at the various reasons why you may experience ovulation cramps after an egg is released.

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Mid-cycle cramping (Mittelschmerz)

Mid-cycle pain is directly connected with ovulation and will cause dull aches on one or the other side of your abdomen. Cramping in the middle of your menstrual cycle usually lasts for a few hours after ovulation.

According to Dr. Frederick Gaupp on eMedicineHealth, ovaries stretching and contracting is the most likely reason for pain during and after ovulation. The mild twinges or pressure in the abdomen may be felt as the follicle ruptures and the egg is released. This pain can last for a few hours to a couple of days. In rare cases, mid-cycle cramping can continue after ovulation has ended and cause intense lower abdominal pain.3

Other symptoms of mid-cycle pain that occurs after an egg has been released include:

  • One-sided abdominal pain depending on which ovary releases the egg.
  • Mild twinges that occur about 14 days before your period
  • Pain that occurs around the same time every month

In many cases, a warm compress can help to relieve menstrual cramping you experience after ovulation has ended and before the start of your next period.

Ovarian cyst

One of the signs of ovarian cysts is cramping pain after you have finished ovulating. Ovarian cysts are fluid-filled sacs and considered a normal part of the menstrual cycle. However, if they become enlarged and rupture, you might get sudden, severe abdominal pains.

Dr. Charles Nathan Webb explains that after ovulation a cyst on the ovaries can rupture causing significant pain.4 This may be followed by some vaginal bleeding. Some other symptoms of ovarian cysts that cause pain include:

Implantation cramping

Mild cramping that happens about a week after ovulation and just before your next period could be a sign of pregnancy. Implantation cramping happens as a fertilized egg attaches itself to the uterine lining.

OB/GYN Dr. Trina Pagano says that mild cramping can occur along with implantation. Cramping as the first sign of pregnancy can happen between 6 to 12 days after the egg is fertilized. Because implantation cramps can feel like menstrual cramps and occur just before the period is due, many women mistake them for their period.6

Other signs that accompany implantation cramping after an egg has been fertilized can include:

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Endometriosis

Endometriosis can cause intense menstrual cramps that can start a week or so after ovulation and last into your period. Endometriosis is a condition of the reproductive organs where endometrial tissue grows outside the uterus.

According to doctors from the Mayo Clinic, endometriosis can cause mild to severe cramping that begins before your period. This can also cause lower back pain and abdominal pain. Endometriosis can also cause some of the following symptoms:7

  • Heavy menstrual flow or spotting between periods
  • Painful sexual intercourse
  • Pain while urinating or having a bowel movement
  • Difficulty becoming pregnant

Pelvic inflammatory disease (PID)

An infection of your reproductive organs can cause pelvic inflammatory disease which can result in pelvic pain before or after ovulation. PID is a bacterial infection that is often transmitted through sexual contact.

Doctors from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report that some women don’t show any symptoms of PID. However, pelvic inflammatory disease can cause lower abdominal pain and mild pelvic pain. Depending on the extent of the infection, some women have severe symptoms that can lead to chronic pelvic pain.8

Pelvic inflammatory disease can also cause any of the following symptoms:

If you suspect you have PID, it’s important to see a doctor. If left untreated, PID can cause a number of complications with your reproductive system.

Pelvic congestion syndrome

You might experience cramping between the end of ovulation and the start of your period if you have pelvic congestion syndrome. Pelvic congestion syndrome causes various aches and pains in your pelvic area caused by a type of varicose vein in your pelvis.

According to Dr. Traci C. Johnson who is a specialist in obstetrics and gynecology, pelvic congestion syndrome can cause abdominal pains about a week to 10 days after ovulation. The pain may be worse when standing or sitting for long periods.9

Constipation

Constipation can cause mild to severe cramping abdominal pains after ovulation. Although constipation isn’t a condition that is connected to the reproductive organs, constipation can become worse in the days before your period.

Research published in the Korean Journal of Physiology & Pharmacology reported on a link between constipation pain and the menstrual cycle. Researchers have found that the drop in levels of estrogen after ovulation can impact bowel movements and result in constipation. This also explains how fluctuating hormone levels cause pregnant women to suffer from constipation.10

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To help relieve constipation that occurs at any time during the menstrual cycle, you can try some natural laxatives. For example, eating more fiber and increasing fluid intake, consuming prunes or figs, or taking castor oil can all help to improve how your digestive system functions.

Other Reasons for Cramping After Ovulation

Women can also experience post-ovulation cramping or pain before ovulation because of health conditions unrelated to the menstrual cycle. Here are a few other reasons for abdominal pains that can still hang around after ovulation.

Appendicitis. Cramping pains that start around your belly button and spread to your lower right abdomen could be a symptom of appendicitis. As the inflammation in the appendix gets worse, the right-sided abdominal pain will become more severe and you may have nausea and vomiting.11

Gallstones. Pain that you feel under your right ribs can sometimes be a sign of gallstones. Doctors from the Mayo Clinic say that gallstones cause sudden abdominal pain in the upper right quadrant. The pain may also radiate to your shoulders blade.12

Kidney stones. One cause of abdominal pain that you can experience at any time during your menstrual cycle is kidney stones. If kidney stones move through your urinary tract you may get intense pain in your lower abdomen, back, or groin. You might notice blood in urine and feel nauseous.13

Urinary tract infection. Many women suffer from urinary tract infections (UTIs) that cause pain or pressure in the lower abdomen or back. UTIs often cause your pee to turn cloudy or go a dark color and it might give off an unpleasant smell. This is usually accompanied by a burning sensation when peeing.14

When to Expect Cramping After Ovulation

You can usually expect to feel ovulation cramping about 14 days after the start of your menstrual cycle. The abdominal pains and cramps are usually felt as your ovaries contract to release the egg. You may experience mid-cycle cramping for a few days after ovulating or have abdominal aches a week or so before your next period.

Cramping Right After Ovulation (1 to 2 Days After Ovulation)

Cramping that happens immediately following ovulation is usually referred to as mid-cycle ovulation pain or Mittelschmerz. Most doctors say that cramping up to 2 days or 48 hours after ovulation is Mittelschmerz. The cramping should only be mild like light twinges, not severe cramping pain.

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Cramping 3, 4, or 5, Days After Ovulation

Ovulation cramping that you feel from 3 to 5 days after your body releases an egg for fertilization could be connected to an underlying health condition.

Some women start to experience pre-menstrual syndrome symptoms like abdominal cramping and light belly aches as early as 2 weeks before their period. So, cramping up to a week after ovulation has occurred could be one of the PMS symptoms.

Cramping More Than 6 Days After Ovulation – What Does It Mean?

Cramping that is felt 6 days or more after releasing an egg from the fallopian tubes could be a sign that you are pregnant or it could be connected with an issue of your reproductive organs.

As already, mentioned conditions like endometriosis or pelvic congestion can start causing abdominal cramps about a week before your period. For many women, this is only 6 or 7 days after ovulating.

Cramping as early as 6 days post-ovulation could also mean that you are pregnant.

What does cramping a week after ovulation mean?

Implantation results in pregnancy and, according to the American Pregnancy Association, this happens about 6-12 days after ovulation. Cramping about a week or more after ovulation that has occurred along with light pink or rust-colored spotting could be a sign that you are pregnant.14

The only way to confirm that you are pregnant if these cramps occur a week after the mid-cycle is to take a pregnancy test.

Is Cramping After Ovulation a Sign of Pregnancy?

Cramping a week or more after noticing signs of ovulation may be a sign of pregnancy. If you are pregnant and implantation has occurred, you may already notice some of the early signs of pregnancy.

According to OB/GYN Dr. Trina Pagano, some signs of pregnancy that you may notice before you expect your period include:6

  • Cramping and spotting. As mentioned already, many women who are pregnant experience light menstrual-like cramps that happen post-ovulation. Implantation spotting usually lasts up to 2 days and occurs in about quarter of pregnant women. This usually occurs at least 6 days after the egg was released.
  • Changes in breast size. As soon as fertilization and implantation take place, hormonal changes in your body affect the size of your breasts and they may feel more tender. About a week after ovulating, you may notice tingling, pain, or swelling in your breasts.
  • Tiredness. About a week to 2 weeks after you have ovulated, pregnancy can cause you to feel fatigued and tired. High levels of progesterone affect your blood pressure, blood sugar levels, and blood production.

Ovulation Cramping vs. Implantation Cramping

The main way to tell the difference between ovulation cramping and implantation cramping is timing.

Ovulation cramping happens mid-cycle which is about 14 days before the start of your next period. According to OB/GYN Dr. Yvonne Butler Tobah, ovulation can occur anywhere from 4 days before the mid-point of the cycle to 4 days after. Ovulation cramping also causes increased vaginal discharge that is clear and sticky.

Implantation cramping can happen when you become pregnant and will occur a week to 12 days after ovulation. For many women, this means that implantation can happen just before the start of the menstrual period. There may be some light spotting with implantation and vaginal discharge will increase as changes in your cervix happen.

When to See a Doctor

In most cases, menstrual cramps are nothing more than a source of frustration for many women. However, doctors from the Mayo Clinic say that you should speak to your doctor if you suddenly start to have severe menstrual cramping or if cramping disrupts your daily activities.

Read my other related articles:

Medical Sources

  1. BetterHealth. Ovulation pain.
  2. NHS. Ovulation pain.
  3. eMedicineHealth. Painful ovulation.
  4. Medscape. Ovarian cyst rupture.
  5. Medscape. Ovarian cysts.
  6. WebMD. Pregnancy symptoms.
  7. MayoClinic. Endometriosis.
  8. CDC. Pelvic inflammatory disease.
  9. WebMD. Pelvic congestion syndrome.
  10. Korean J Physiol Pharmacol. 2013 Oct; 17(5): 423–426.
  11. MedicineNet. Appendicitis.
  12. MayoClinic. Gallstones.
  13. NHS. Kidney stones.
  14. WomensHealth. Premenstrual syndrome.
  15. AmericanPregnancy. What is implantation bleeding?
  16. MayoClinic. What ovulation signs can I look out for if I’m hoping to conceive?
  17. MayoClinic. Menstrual cramps.
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