If you're not someone who carefully tracks your period, spotting, getting pelvic pains, and feeling super moody weeks before you get your period can seem pretty alarming. But according to experts, that's all part of that "other
time of the month" called ovulation.
Ovulation impacts every woman’s body differently, and not all women experience the same symptoms," Dr. Peter Rizk, women’s health expert for Fairhaven Health tells Bustle. This means symptoms can vary in intensity and/or duration. Although he says it's difficult to "universalize" it, educating yourself about what can happen to your body during ovulation can help to ease your mind or alert you to the things you may need to discuss with your doctor.
The good news is, the symptoms that you can experience during ovulation shouldn't be that bad, at least not as bad as the
average symptoms woman experiences during PMS. As OB/GYN Dr. Kim Langdon tells Bustle, “This the time when the estrogen level is highest in the cycle, and that can cause nausea, bloat, and possibly breast tenderness.” Fatigue during ovulation, moodiness, and an increased libido are also common. But symptoms such as persistent pain, heavy bleeding, vomiting, and fevers, should be brought up to your doctor.
With that said, here are some
ovulation symptoms that OB/GYNs say are nothing to worry about. 1 Changes In Your Discharge d3sign/Moment/Getty Images
Around the time you ovulate, you might observe changes in the quality and quantity of your cervical mucus (CM). "CM should be abundant, thin (even watery to some degree) and very stretchy," Dr. Rizk says. "It should be able to stretch between your fingers without breaking and will not hold its form." If you notice that your cervical fluids are more transparent, sticky, or even slippery during ovulation, that's totally common. According to Dr. Rizk, this change is an essential part of the process to getting pregnant.
If you’re looking to get pregnant, pay attention to when your discharge has the “consistency of egg whites.” As
Dr. Jodie Horton, MD, OB/GYN and chief wellness advisor for Love Wellness tells Bustle, “This is the best time to have sex if you want to get pregnant as this sperm-friendly mucus helps sperm survive and swim.” 2 Tender Breasts
corpus luteum, which is responsible for putting out hormones, secretes progesterone in order to help with pregnancy. As Dr. Rizk says, this increase in the hormone progesterone may contribute to increased breast and nipple sensitivity directly following ovulation. "You may be sensitive, but don’t be concerned!" he says. Again, it’s all part of the process.
If you’re experiencing breast tenderness during ovulation, Dr. Horton says this can be treated by using a supportive bra. Making dietary changes like decreasing caffeine intake and following a low-fat diet can also help. Supplements such as Vitex, also known as chasteberry, can also improve a variety of premenstrual symptoms including breast pain and menstrual cramps.
3 Pelvic Pain Yuttana Jaowattana / EyeEm/EyeEm/Getty Images Pain of any kind can be alarming. But if you typically experience pelvic pain during ovulation, know that this is one of the most common side effects of ovulation. As Dr. Juan Alvarez, an OB/GYN and board-certified reproductive endocrinologist with Fertility Centers of Illinois, tells Bustle, some women can actually feel their body ovulating when they experience mild pain in the lower abdomen.
“Known as Mittelschmerz (German for ‘middle pain’), you will feel a mild pain or ache on one side of the abdomen or the other, depending on which ovary is releasing an egg,” Dr. Alvarez says. “The pain is due to the follicular fluid being released with the egg as well as some blood, which can irritate the pelvis causing pain that can last for a few minutes or a few hours, and can vary in intensity.
More often than not, this symptom is harmless. Taking a warm bath or using a heat pack can help alleviate the pain. If you’re experiencing intense or prolonged pain, Dr. Horton says non-steroidal anti-inflammatories may be an option. But if the pain is severe, you can always discuss starting birth control options that will the symptoms associated with ovulation, she says.
For women who do experience Mittelschmerz, Dr. Rizk says there is a slight chance that you may see some spotting. Mittelschmerz is caused by the egg bursting from the ovary at the very moment you ovulate, he says. So this "bursting forth" may also cause a light bleeding that can show up in your discharge. "While only about 20 percent of women will experience
ovulation pains, even less will be able to detect ovulation spotting," Dr. Rizk says.
Dr. Amy Roskin, MD, OB/GYN and medical director of The Pill Club, says approximately five percent of women experience a day or two of spotting during ovulation due to “complex hormonal changes” that occur during this time. It’s nothing to worry about, and having these symptoms may be able to help you track your cycle better. 5 Cervical Changes
Some period tracking apps will
ask you to check your cervix to see how far along you are in the process. But if that's not something you do regularly, any changes in the way your cervix feels may be cause for concern. But as Dr. Rizk says, both the position and feel of your cervix will undergo significant changes during your menstrual cycle. "You can detect these changes through a simple self-examination with clean, dry fingers, so it’s a simple test you can do at home to ensure the symptoms are related to ovulation," he says.
The cervix makes up the lower third of the uterus and serves as the opening point into the uterus where sperm can swim to fertilize an egg. According to Dr. Alvarez, the cervix becomes higher, softer, more open, and wet during ovulation to help the body conceive during sex. “Before ovulation, the cervix can feel soft, similar to touching your lips, whereas it will feel harder, like touching your nose, after ovulation,” he says.
Of course, all of these descriptive terms are relative. If you’re not used to monitoring your cervix, it may take some practice to get a feel for your its position, texture, and openness throughout your cycle. In general, regular changes shouldn’t be alarming. If you notice something out of the ordinary, you can then discuss it with your doctor.
6 Mood Fluctuations LaylaBird/E+/Getty Images Mood swings during ovulation are also completely normal. “During ovulation, estrogen drops a little and progesterone levels start to sharply go up while the body releases an egg,” Dr. Alvarez says. “These hormonal shifts can also influence serotonin levels, a neurotransmitter that helps to regulate mood (as well as sleep cycles and appetite).” When you have low serotonin levels, you may be more sad or irritable than usual. You may also experience food cravings, interrupted sleep, or fatigue. Getting some exercise or eating a well-balanced diet can help with these symptoms. 7 A Rise In Body Temperature
Progesterone that's released right after ovulation can lead to a variety of symptoms such as mood swings and breast tenderness. During a woman’s cycle, Dr. Alvarez says the
basal body temperature, which is your temperature when you’re fully at rest, is consistent. But right before ovulation, a slight decline will occur which will then be followed by a sharp increase after ovulation has occurred. Some women may feel more flushed than usual. “To track your basal body temperature (BBT) you must use a special BBT thermometer first thing in the morning,” he says. “Charting BBT for a few months will help you be able to predict when ovulation is going to happen.” 8 Bloating
Abdominal bloating is a very common symptom of PMS, but it’s also common right after ovulation. According to Dr. Alvarez, the body produces high levels of progesterone, which can cause food to move more slowly through the intestinal tract. This can lead to fluid retention, which can then result in constipation and bloating.
Like other ovulation symptoms, bloating and discomfort are usually short-lived and shouldn’t be severe enough to interfere with your day-to-day routine. But OB/GYN
Dr. Alyssa Dweck MD tells Bustle, “If either pain and/or bloating are severe enough that OTC meds are not sufficient to alleviate, or if they last longer than a day or two, it’s best to check in with your gynecologist.” What You Can Do To Lessen The Symptoms Of Ovulation
There are several things you can do to alleviate some of the most common symptoms of ovulation. For instance,
Dr. Sanaz Ghazal, MD, OB/GYN, co-founder and medical director of RISE Fertility, tells Bustle to resist the urge to consume unhealthy, processed, or sugary foods. Instead, focus on eating clean, organic whole foods. Staying hydrated and eating three to four hours can help to balance hormones that may affect your mood. For abdominal discomfort or headaches, that can be managed with medications.
Everyone experiences their menstrual cycle differently. Keeping
track of your cycle in a journal or an app, can help you figure out what's common for you. If you do have any concerns, big or small, don't be afraid to talk to your doctor. They can ease your mind or find ways to help treat any symptoms you may be experiencing. Experts Dr. Peter Rizk, OB/GYN and women’s health expert for Fairhaven Health Dr. Kim Langdon, OB/GYN with Medzino Dr. Amy Roskin, MD, OB/GYN and medical director of The Pill Club Dr. Jodie Horton, MD, OB/GYN and chief wellness advisor for Love Wellness Dr. Juan Alvarez, an OB/GYN and board-certified reproductive endocrinologist with Fertility Centers of Illinois Dr. Sanaz Ghazal, MD, OB/GYN, co-founder and medical director of RISE Fertility Dr. Alyssa Dweck MD, OB/GYN and podcast host of Business of the V