Many people may not have heard of the medical condition known as Mittelschmerz not only because of its name that’s difficult to pronounce and remember, but maybe also due to the fact that people affected by it may not think of it as anything.
Mittelschmerz refers to a type of pain that’s associated with ovulation, thus it only affects women. The pain is felt on one side of the lower abdominal area and usually occurs halfway through a menstrual cycle – approximately 14 days prior to the next menstruation. The term mittelschmerz is derived from a German word which means “middle pain.”
As the term implies, the main symptom of mittelschmerz is pain. The pain often lasts for a few minutes to a few hours, though it may persist for as long as a day or two. According to Medline Plus, the pain associated with mittelschmerz may not be always felt on the same side – meaning that it can be experienced on one side one month, and then is felt on the other side the next month. Affected women may also feel this pain successively on the same side for several months.
The symptoms of mittelschmerz revolve around pain that is felt in the lower abdominal area. This pain may: be felt on one side of the lower abdomen; usually last a few minutes to a few hours, though it may continue for 24-48 hours; be dull and cramp-like, usually occur as a sharp, sudden, and distinctive type of pain; be associated with mild vaginal bleeding or discharge; affect either side of the lower abdomen at one time; start halfway through the menstrual cycle; and rarely become severe.
The reason why mittelschmerz pain is felt on one side of the lower abdomen at one time is that it only occurs on the side of the ovary that’s going through the process of ovulation or in laymen’s term, releasing an egg (ovum) in that menstrual cycle. The pain may be experienced on the same side for several months in succession or it may alternately affect either of the abdominal sides every other month depending on which side of the ovary is releasing an egg.
To know if you have mittelschmerz, try to monitor your menstrual cycle for several months and take note when you feel one-sided pain in your lower abdomen. Most likely you have mittelschmerz if you experience one-sided pain midway through your cycle; especially if that pain goes away without treatment.
As the pain associated with this condition is usually mild, most cases do not require medical intervention. But if the pain becomes severe or lasts longer than usual and is accompanied by other symptoms such as nausea and fever, you need to consult your doctor as these could mean you have other condition more serious than mittelschmerz like appendicitis, pelvic inflammatory disease or ectopic pregnancy.