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Cramping after ovulation for a day, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 or a Week – Is it Pregnancy

I have cramps after ovulation, am I pregnant?  What does cramping after ovulation mean? Can you have post ovulation cramping after a day, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, after a week or longer? What usually causes these cramping that are often one side?  

What is ovulation?

Ovulation is the entire process by which a matured ovarian follicle releases an egg (ovum) and its moving to the fallopian tube for fertilization.  It often happens midway on your menstrual cycle and lasts for one to two days.  During the process, it is normal for some women to experience cramping before, during after this process i.e. “one sided, lower abdominal pain” [mayoclinic.org] or mittelschmerz.

Cramping after ovulation - what causes these cramps
What causes these cramps

The process of release of an ovum takes a moment. The ovum has a lifespan of not more than 24 hours. However, one can get pregnant for up to 5 days at around ovulation time since a sperm can live for a longer time. Disintegration if no fertilization happens begins after 12 to 24 hours from the time of release.

Normally, about 1 in every 5 women in their childbearing age experience some form of cramping or pain during and/or after ovulation. This pain may range from being a sharp pain to mild pain (dull ache), a twinge, a minor pinch that last for a moment or slight cramping that is often one sided, comes all over a sudden, switches sides periodically (in each month), occurs midway in your menstrual cycle and may last for a short while or for much longer.

Furthermore, cramping can be continuous from the onset of ovulation for a day or two or be intermittent (coming and going). It varies from one person to another.

If the menstrual like cramps after ovulation are severe, one might feel nauseated. Furthermore, you may have light vaginal bleeding (spotting), have an elevated body temperature, notice slippery and slick mucus, as well as some PMS symptoms including “breast enlargement and tenderness (sore breasts), abdominal bloating and moodiness” [www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au]

Why severe or mild cramping after ovulation?

With a clearer understanding of what ovulation is, it is time to try to give possible causes of stomach cramps after ovulation. The exact cause of this period like cramps after or during ovulation is not known. However, there are several possible theories that have been advanced to try to explain the cause of abdominal pain and cramping during ovulation:

1. Stretching of the ovary surface

The first possible explanation to the existence of ovulation cramps during or after ovulation is the stretching of the ovary surface as follicle grows (folliculogenesis). Hormones often make the ovary to produce about 20 follicles each with an immature egg. Only one of the follicles will be able to survive to reach full maturity.

Therefore, “it is supposed that ovulation pain is caused by the expanding follicle stretching the membrane of the ovary” [betterhealth.vic.gov.au].

2. Rupturing of the follicle and breaking of ovary wall

For a mature ovum to be released, it has to burst from the follicle. This causes mild bleeding. The process of rupturing of follicle and as the ovum forces itself or breaks through the walls of the ovary, one may end up with lower abdominal cramps.

3. Mucus and/or some blood release during rupturing

As one is ovulating, the ovum, some fluid and some blood may be released from the ovary as it raptures. According to webmd.com, “it is believed that the fluid or blood may irritate the lining of the abdominal cavity, causing pain.” This can further be supported by the presence some discharge that may contain very small amounts of blood.

4. Uterus and fallopian tube spasms

Mild post ovulation cramps  can often be a result of spasms in the fallopian tube that tend to force the ovum from the fallopian tube after 12-24 hours, for implantation (if  it has been fertilized) or as it awaits disintegration and being shed off during the menstrual cycle that follows.

5. Post ovulation constipation

Usually, about 2% of women often experience slow bowel movement or constipation 7 to 10 days after ovulation. This is thought to be triggered by progesterone hormone.  The constipation might be responsible for slight cramping after ovulation or mild lower abdominal aches and pain, a common symptom of pregnancy in women too.

To avoid constipation, drink lots of water, exercise, eat small regular meals with high fiber content and do not ignore the urge to go to the toilet.

There could be other causes of light cramping after ovulation, which have not mentioned since the actual cause is not yet known.

It is not only ovulation or PMS that cause abdominal cramping. There are health conditions that might result to the ‘painful ovulation like cramps’ and they  include STDs, salpingitis, pelvic bacterial infection from various procedures, endometriosis, fallopian tube mucus congestion, cysts in ovaries as well as adhesions from previous surgeries.

What if you are on clomid

Clomid are oral medications often prescribed to treat women infertility by helping increase production of hormones that help in growth of ovum to maturity and its release.

If you are on clomid, it is easy to assume you are pregnant, suffering from post ovulation symptoms or you have PMS symptoms since it can cause side effects such as breast tenderness, headache, nausea, diarrhea or vomiting, abdominal uterine bleeding, bloating or stomach upsets, pelvis or abdominal fullness, dizziness, hot flashes, blurred vision, etc.

Cramping days after ovulation

Cramping due to ovulation normally last for up to two days. However, if the pain lasts for much a longer time, see a doctor since it could be another problem such as appendicitis, ectopic pregnancy or ovarian cysts.

 Let us not look at day-to-day post ovulation cramping as we try to give some explanations to what could be happening. The chart below, showing pregnancy percentages by DPO (days past ovulation) is courtesy of betterpregnancies.com. It is going to further help us illustrate the issue well.

pregnancy by days past ovulation DPO chart
pregnancy by days past ovulation DPO chart

1. Cramping day after ovulation

Cramping right after ovulation, cramps a day or two after ovulation are quite normal for some women i.e. the “abdominal pain that accompanies ovulation… may lasts just a moment or a dull achy feeling that may last from several hours to two days” [theovulationsymptoms.com]. The possible reasons for cramping are just what we have already discussed.

From the chart above, about 6% of women in childbearing age experience pain for camping. 2/3 of them are usually pregnant and a 1/3 are not pregnant.  Leah says:

“My husband and I tried for a baby this month and I have noticeable cramping in my mid section already.  I am only 1 day after ovulation.  Is this an early sign of pregnancy?  I never feel ovulation for have cramping afterwards.  Just curious. – Leah posted in [forums.thebump.com].

Unfortunately, for Leah, it is early to conclude whether the cramping has anything to do with the pregnancy. It is just a sign of ovulation. She will have to wait a little longer to see  other pregnancy signs.

2. Cramping 2 days after ovulation

As already seen, during the first up to two days after ovulation, it is normal to experience cramping.  According to better betterpregnancies.com, and as illustrated by the chart above, about 7% of women experience cramps 2 days after ovulation with about 4.5% of those who have them being pregnant. Of course, you can only get pregnant if you had an intercourse.

If you are on clomid, it might be some of the side effects already seen especially if clomid causes stomach upsets and abdominal pain.

3. Cramping 3 days after ovulation

Is it normal to have cramps 3 days after ovulation or could you be pregnant? Cramping 3DPO is not a clear sign of pregnancy since implantation cramping could occur much later. About 9% of women normally have cramp and pain after ovulation on the third day, 6% of percent of which are pregnant.

Due to physiological differences, it is normal for cramping to go past the two days i.e. into the third day but it should appear to clear up. Follicular fluid that cause irritation can take a little longer to be absorbed or ruptured membrane may still healing.

4. Cramping 4 days after ovulation  onward

Abdominal pain or cramps 4 days after ovulation accompanied with “vomiting or vomiting blood, blood in stool, increased pain, feeling faint or dizzy, high fever, difficult or painful urination, swollen abdomen or difficulty in breathing” [babyhopes.com] requires you to see doctor immediately.

About 10% of women have stomach pain 4dpo with 6.5% being pregnant.

5. Cramping 5 days after ovulation

If you still have cramps 5 days after ovulation, it could be early implantation, side effects of clomid (if using them when you are trying to conceive TTC) or another underlying problem. 12% of women experience cramps on their 5th day after they have ovulated with 7.5% of them being pregnant.

6. Cramping 6 days after ovulation

This is the onset of implantation if fertilization happened.  Therefore, if you have cramps 6 days after ovulation, it could be implantation cramps. From the chart above, about 15% of women feel pain with 10% pregnant.

7. Cramping a week after ovulation

It might sound strange but it is possible to be cramping 7 days after ovulation. Cramps a week after ovulation affects 16.5% of the women where 11% are pregnant.

For people who have shorter menstrual cycles, cramps a week after ovulation could be PMS setting in while you assume you are having post ovulation cramps.  Furthermore, at this time, implantation could be happening (i.e. you are having implantation cramps), meaning you are pregnant.

Is cramping after ovulation a sign of pregnancy – cramping after conception

Cramping is not just a symptom of PMS but also a symptom of early pregnancy. It happens a few days after fertilization or conception i.e. “anywhere from six to 12 days after the egg is fertilized” [webmd.com]. Of course, you are most likely to be pregnant at around the time of ovulation.

This cramping happens “when the embryo burrows into the lining of the uterus…. may start earlier in your cycle than when PMS starts, and may be more intense than typical pre-menstrual cramps” [justmommies.com]. Most women will tend to assume it is a PMS sign when it could be a sign of pregnancy.

If the cramping is due to conception, it usually starts as from the 5th or 6th day from ovulation time. Some women may experience a few more symptoms of pregnancy that include breast tenderness, fatigue, spotting due implantation bleeding, bloating, backache, “white, milky discharge from her vagina” [webmd.com]or white discharge due to increase of cells as the vagina walls thickens, something that happens almost immediately after conception has occurred.

However, of you are trying to conceive (TTC) you should not conclude cramps after ovulation is sign of pregnancy even if you having a few more signs we have mentioned since some women experience similar symptoms just before a normal monthly period as part of their premenstrual syndrome (PMS). In fact many women have this symptoms but not pregnant

How to deal with cramps after ovulation

If you have mild cramps after ovulation, you might ignore them. If you can’t stand them, trying remedies such as over the counter painkillers like ibuprofen or naproxen will be helpful in minimizing your discomfort.

Severe cases of pain might require “birth control such as oral contraceptive pills (OCPs) that prevent ovulation from taking place can stop the pain from occurring” [emedicinehealth.com]

Our sources and references
  1. Pregnancy Symptoms: http://www.webmd.com/baby/guide/pregnancy-am-i-pregnant
  2. Early Signs of Conception: http://www.justmommies.com/pregnancy/am-i-pregnant/early-signs-conception
  3. Mittelschmerz: http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/mittelschmerz/basics/definition/con-20025507
  4. Ovulation, Cramps and Abdominal Pain: http://www.theovulationsymptoms.com/ovulation-cramps-and-abdominal-pain/
  5. Ovulation Pain: When Cramps Come in the Middle of Your Cycle: http://www.everydayhealth.com/pms/ovulation-pain.aspx
  6. Painful Ovulation (Mittelschmerz) http://www.webmd.com/women/guide/mittelschmerz-pain
  7. Ovulation pain: http://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/bhcv2/bhcarticles.nsf/pages/Ovulation_pain
  8. Ovulation: http://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/bhcv2/bhcarticles.nsf/pages/Ovulation
  9. Mittelschmerz: http://www.emedicinehealth.com/mittelschmerz/page6_em.htm
  10. What Can I Do to Relieve Ovulation Pain? http://www.babyhopes.com/articles/ovulation-pain-relief.html

About Vladmir Kucherov

2 comments

  1. Thank you for the good research.

  2. Nice explanation

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