Painful Sex During Ovulation: Causes and How It Affects Fertility

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

Updated December 1, 2022.

A woman lying on her side in discomfort

Painful sex is not normal but is experienced by most women at some point in their sexual lives. Three of four women have experienced painful sex. There could be various reasons for this. Here, we discuss the link between ovulation and painful sex and consider how it might affect fertility.

Symptoms of Ovulation Pain

Ovulation pain is usually felt on one side of the abdomen. It may be very brief or last up to two days and may be accompanied by light spotting. However, it is not generally associated with bleeding or a range of other symptoms. The brief phase of ovulation, about five days in total in the middle of the menstrual cycle, is not often linked to further complications. The ovum is available for conception for less than 24 hours. Ovulation pain can be remedied by a mild painkiller and a hot compress and by taking a contraceptive pill if it becomes severe (which then eliminates fertility of the ovum).

The following signs accompany ovulation:

  • Clear, stretchy mucus (actually secreted by the cervix)
  • The body's basal temperature becomes higher for a day or so
  • More energy, increased libido, heightened senses, and sensitive breasts
  • Some pain, but this is not always experienced.

Normal ovulation does not negatively affect fertility, but painful sex can affect fertility. Sex at ovulation is the best way to conceive. Painful intercourse affects fertility in different ways.

Causes of Painful Intercourse During Ovulation

The pain of ovulation experienced in the abdomen is not necessarily worsened by intercourse. Painful intercourse is not caused by ovulation pain, but a combination of painful intercourse while experiencing ovulation pain should be avoided. This is because the stress of pain may affect fertility. It makes sense to avoid painful intercourse when you are already experiencing ovulation pain.

Painful intercourse during ovulation can have some of the following causes:

  • Hitting the cervix during sex. This is less likely during ovulation as the cervix is retracted.
  • Doggie style sex or another position that may also nudge the cervix uncomfortably
  • Not enough lubrication/foreplay
  • Pelvic inflammatory disease
  • An ovarian cyst
  • Cramping after ovulation, caused by implantation of a fertilized egg
  • Endometriosis

Painful intercourse can also be accounted for by pre-existing conditions such as vulvodynia or vaginismus. These are unrelated to ovulation.

Cramping after unprotected intercourse during ovulation may be due to the activity of the ovum being released from the fallopian tube or due to post-orgasmic tension. In other words, it is not a threat to conception.

How Fertility Is Affected by Painful Intercourse

Painful intercourse is stressful, stress releases cortisol, and this affects the pelvic floor muscles. Pelvic pain is triggered by physical or mental stress, and these hormones cause the pelvic floor muscles to contract.

During ovulation, the cervix moves up, it becomes softer and more sensitive, and deeper penetration is possible without bumping it uncomfortably. However, the pain of ovulation might affect sexual pleasure. Different sexual positions may be painful, which is stressful. This may affect hormonal patterns, which, in turn, may affect the whole process of conception.

Tempdrop with couple

Sex may also be painful because of an underlying health problem, such as endometriosis, fibroids, infection, or Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID). This directly affects ovulation and conception, so get a gynecological checkup before trying to conceive. If you experience painful intercourse, you might want to avoid sex during ovulation, reducing your chances of conception.

When Should You See a Doctor About Pain During Intercourse?

If you experience pain during intercourse, check with your doctor to rule out any underlying illness or infection. It is important for the cause of the pain to be investigated. Seek medical help if:

  • The pain is severe
  • The duration of the pain extends beyond the sexual activity
  • The pain is accompanied by bleeding, nausea, or vomiting
  • The pain extends to other areas of your body

In summary, painful intercourse may be related to sexual practices and positions that put stress on the cervix, or it may be due to health problems. It is best to avoid the stress of painful intercourse during ovulation, as stress hormones may interfere with conception. The sense of well-being felt during ovulation promotes conception. However, painful sex does not promote it.