If you experience cramps after you ovulate, could you be pregnant? What does it mean? Can you have ovulation cramps at two, three, four, five or six days after ovulation or even a week or longer after you ovulate? What typically causes this cramping that often happens on one side of your abdomen?
What is Ovulation?
Ovulation, simply put, is the process through which a matured follicle in the ovaries releases an ovum (egg), and the way by which it moves into the fallopian tube to be fertilized.
Ovulation typically occurs in the middle of your cycle, and it can last for one or two days. During this time, women normally experience some cramping before, during or after the process. It is on one side of the body, and you’ll feel it most in the lower abdomen.
What Causes Cramping after Ovulation?
It takes a bit of time for the ovum to be released. You can become pregnant during a five day period around your ovulation time, because sperm may live for a long time. If no fertilization occurs, disintegration of the ovum begins about 12 to 24 hours from the time of the ovum release.
Roughly one in five women of childbearing age may experience some pain or cramping during ovulation, or after it, or both. The pain may be mild or sharp, in the form of a pinch or twinge, on one side of the abdomen.
Cramping may be continuous from the time of ovulation to a few days afterward, or it may come and go during that time. The time and pain varies among women.
If these cramps, which feel somewhat like menstrual cramps, are severe, you might experience nausea. You may have some spotting, and have slick, slippery mucus and a slight fever. PMS symptoms are common here, too, including tender breasts, moodiness and abdominal bloating.
Why do you have Mild or Severe Cramping after Ovulation?
Since we’ve given you a clear explanation of ovulation, we can also give you probable causes for the cramping that occurs after it. The precise cause is unknown. However, several theories may explain the cause.
- Breaking of the ovary wall and rupturing of follicle
An ovum must burst from the follicle to be mature and released. This brings on light bleeding. The process of follicle rupturing and the breaking away of the ovum from the ovary walls may cause cramps in the lower abdomen.
- Stretching of the ovary surface
Cramps after ovulation may also be caused by the follicle growth stretching the surface of the ovary. Hormones may allow the ovaries to produce roughly 20 follicles each, and they all can have immature eggs. Only one will survive to mature.
- Spasms of the fallopian tube and uterus
Mild cramping after ovulation may come from spasms in the fallopian tube as they force the ovum through for implantation if the ovum is fertilized, or if unfertilized, before it is disintegrated and shed through your menstrual cycle.
- Blood or mucus release during the rupture
As you ovulate, the ovum, along with some blood and fluid, can be released from your ovary. This may irritate the abdominal cavity lining, which causes pain. This is supported by the presence of a discharge that sometimes contains small blood amounts.
- Constipation after ovulation
Roughly two percent of women experience constipation after they ovulate, for a week to 10 days. This may be triggered by the hormone progesterone. Constipation can cause cramping and mild lower abdominal pain. To avoid this, drink plenty of water, get some exercise, eat smaller meals at regular times, with a high content of fiber, and don’t ignore any urges to use the toilet.
There may be additional causes of post-ovulation cramps, since there is no one, true, defined cause.
PMS or ovulation are not the only things that cause cramping in the abdomen. There are also health issues that result in cramps that feel like those occurring after ovulation. These include:
- Pelvic infections from procedures
- Mucus congestion in the fallopian tube
- Adhesions from past surgeries
- Ovarian cysts
What about side effects from the medication Clomid?
The oral medication Clomid is prescribed for infertility in women. It helps by increasing hormone production, so that an ovum may grow to full maturity.
If you’re taking Clomid, the cramping after ovulation may resemble the pain of early stage pregnancy. The symptoms may also resemble those of PMS, and it has side effects including:
- Blurred vision
- Hot flashes
- Abdominal fullness
- Stomach upset
- Uterine bleeding
- Breast tenderness
Cramping that occurs days after ovulation
Cramping from ovulation usually lasts for two days or less. If the pain persists for longer, consult with your physician. It may be another issue, like ovarian cysts, appendicitis or ectopic pregnancy.
Let’s go day to day after ovulation, to see what could cause cramping. The chart directly below this passage shows the percentages by days past ovulation (DPO), courtesy of betterpregnancies.com. It will help in illustration the issue more clearly.
- Cramping the first day after ovulating
Immediately after you ovulate, cramps are common. They may last only a little while or persist as a dull ache for a couple days. Possible reasons have been discussed above.
Leah posted in Thebump.com forums that she noticed cramping in her midsection right after ovulation. She is wondering if she is pregnant. However, at one day, it’s too early to determine whether that cramping as associated with pregnancy. She will have to wait for other signs of pregnancy.
- Cramping the second day after ovulating
It is still normal to feel day two cramping after ovulation. About seven percent of women have cramps the second day, and nearly five percent of them are pregnant. Clomid also sometimes causes side effects as we have noted, which may include abdominal pain and stomach upset.
- Cramping the third day after ovulating
Could this be a pregnancy sign? Cramping three days past ovulation isn’t a clear pregnancy sign, since actual implantation cramping may occur later. Roughly nine percent of women have cramps and pain three days after ovulation, and about six percent of these women are pregnant.
- Cramping the fourth day or later after ovulating
If you have cramping four days or more after you ovulate and also experience difficulty breathing, swollen abdomen, painful or difficult urination, high fever, dizziness, increased pain, blood in stool, vomiting or vomiting blood, see your physician immediately. Roughly 10% of women experience stomach pain four days past ovulation and about 6.5% of them are pregnant.
- Cramping the fifth day or later after ovulating
If you have cramping five days past ovulation, it may be caused by Clomid side effects, early implantation, or other issues. About 12% of women have cramps five days after ovulation and roughly 7.5% of these women are pregnant.
- Cramping the sixth day or later after ovulating
If fertilization occurs, these cramps may signal the onset of your implantation. As seen in the above chart, 15% or so of women feel pain after six days and about 10% of these women are pregnant.
- Cramping the seventh day after ovulating
You can actually have non-pregnancy related cramping a week after you ovulate. Cramping after ovulation, but a week later, affects about 16.5% of women and about 11% are actually pregnant.
If you have short cycles, you may mistake PMS cramps for post-ovulation cramping. Implantation could also be occurring at this time.
Cramping after conception – Is post-ovulation cramping a pregnancy sign?
Cramping isn’t only a PMS symptom, but also an early pregnancy sign. It can occur anywhere between 6-12 days after the fertilization of the egg. You are most likely to be pregnant, of course, at about the time of ovulation.
This cramping occurs when your embryo burrows into the uterine lining. The pain may begin earlier than PMS symptoms do, and it may also be more intense. Most women with pain at this stage will assume that it’s PMS, when it may be a pregnancy.
If the cramping is caused by conception, it will usually start on the 5th-6th day after ovulation. You may experience other pregnancy symptoms, too, like backache, bloating, spotting from implantation bleeding, fatigue, breast tenderness and a milky, white vaginal discharge due to the increase in cells as the walls of your vagina thicken. This occurs almost immediately post-conception.
If you are trying to get pregnant, don’t conclude that cramping after ovulation is a definite pregnancy sign, even if you have several other signs we’ve mentioned. These signs could be related to PMS rather than pregnancy.
Dealing with Cramps following Ovulation
You can probably ignore mild cramps after you ovulate. If that isn’t possible, use naproxen or ibuprofen to treat them. Either of these medications can help you to minimize the discomfort of pregnancy or PMS signs including cramps.
If your pain is quite severe, you may need to take birth control medications, like oral contraceptives. These will effectively prevent ovulation from occurring, so you won’t have to worry about any adverse effects you normally experience after ovulation.