Is Ovulation Pain a Sign That It’s Too Late to Conceive?

Marie-Claire De Villiers
By Marie-Claire De Villiers
Romi Hector
Edited by Romi Hector

Updated December 1, 2022.

A young woman sitting on the couch holding her abdominal area

Not all women experience ovulation cramps, but it's good to know how to identify them and their role in conception. During ovulation, when the luteinizing hormone peaks (LH peaks), you may experience pain on one side of the body, which can last for a few seconds or up to 12 hours. The pain is thought to be related to the egg breaking through the ovary wall, and some water or a little blood may also be released, causing spotting.

Symptoms of Ovulation Cramps

The intensity of ovulation cramps may be severe and sharp. However, they are usually brief and on one side of the abdomen. The pain flares in the middle of the menstrual cycle, and you may experience ovulation cramps before or after an egg is released. Some bloating may also be triggered by the LH peaks, which can cause water retention. The ovulation cramps may be sharper than period cramps.

Can You Still Conceive if Experiencing Ovulation Cramps?

Ovulation cramps are not a sign that there is a problem; they occur before, during, or after the egg is released. So, they are good news for conception because they can be a positive sign that the ovum is becoming available for conception. It is possible to conceive immediately after the ovum is released if sperm is already present in the uterus waiting for it. Any sexual activity leading to sperm being present in the uterus over the 48-hour lifespan of the ovum can lead to conception.

The Difference Between Ovulation Cramps and Implantation Cramps

Ovulation cramps might not feel very different from implantation cramps, but they occur at different times. Some women experience cramps after sex during ovulation. Cramps may occur or be worsened by sex during ovulation, but this is due to the pressure on the cervix during sexual activity and not related to ovulation.

Implantation cramps occur when the fertilized egg implants itself in the soft tissue of the uterus, and they may occur between 10-14 days after conception. These cramps are caused by the hormones progesterone and estrogen that feed the growth of the endometrium, a bed of tissue to receive the egg.

Some brownish spotting, which is implantation bleeding, may occur at this time and looks different from a regular period. Again, this is a positive sign of conception, not a problem.

Easing Ovulation Pain and Increasing Fertility

Here are some tips to ease ovulation pain:

  • Take a painkiller like ibuprofen
  • Apply a hot cloth or hot water bottle to the painful area
  • Move around if you can

Some tips to increase your chance of conception are:

  • Have sex often—before, during, and after ovulation—to maximize your opportunity for fertilization.
  • Keep track of your basal body temperature during the phase of ovulation. The temperature rise, caused by progesterone and estrogen, indicates ovulation and lets you know you have a good chance of conceiving.
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When Should You See a Doctor?

If your cramping persists beyond 24 hours, or there are other symptoms accompanying it, consult your doctor. These additional symptoms indicate that you need help:

  • Unusual vaginal bleeding
  • Referred pain (e.g., from your groin down to your leg)
  • Cramping and frequent painful urination
  • Vomiting or diarrhea
  • A missed period

If you have these symptoms, there may be a possibility that the cramping is related to acute appendicitis, endometriosis, or uterine fibroids, not ovulation.

To understand the effects of different hormones at different stages of the menstrual cycle, it may be helpful to look at a visual source showing the phases of your menstrual cycle. It is also a guide to understanding how tracking ovulation and your period can help you conceive.