As if PMS and the lovely cramps, bloating, and acne caused by your period aren't enough fun, women also have another treat once a month — ovulation. For most women, this is pretty uneventful, but some women may experience two side effects. Keep reading for a little reassurance and to save you an unnecessary trip to the gyno.
What's This Piercing Pain?
Ever felt a sudden, pinching sensation on either side of your lower abdomen? Weird pains are sure to send you to the doctor, especially if you experience them every month and they're not associated with menstrual cramps.
About 10 to 14 days before your period (depending on the length of your cycle), you ovulate, and it can cause a tugging pain at the site of one of your ovaries. "This is known as mittelschmerz [German for middle pain]," says Dr. Jennie Lowell, an obstetrician and gynecologist. "When you ovulate, the egg is in a follicle and it has fluid around it. When the follicle bursts . . . that little pain you feel is the fluid getting released." Dr. Lowell explains that some women might feel it every month on one or both sides, but other women may never experience this sensation. It's a typical symptom associated with ovulation that lasts about a day and is no cause for alarm.
Do I Have an Infection?
Once a month, you may think you have some kind of vaginal infection and vow to call the doctor to make an appointment, but then it goes away so you forget about it. It's called cervical fluid, and it's a good thing — that is, if you're trying to conceive.
Dr. Lowell explains, "As hormone levels change, it changes the level of cervical mucus." In the middle of your cycle, when you ovulate, it gets really liquidy, allowing sperm to easily swim up into the cervix to fertilize the egg. You may notice that your cervical fluid is creamy and whitish about a week or so after the end of your period. Then right before you ovulate, it'll have an egg-white consistency, and after ovulation, it'll become thicker and then diminish. If you're extremely fertile, you'll produce so much cervical fluid that it can drip out, appear stringy, or show up as a little dollop on your undies or on the toilet paper when you wipe. All this fluid leaking out of you may seem like you have an infection, but Dr. Lowell reassures that "it's totally normal." If it's annoying, just wear a pantyliner for a few days.
Dr. Lowell adds, "If you're on hormonal birth control [like the pill or NuvaRing], you won't experience either of these symptoms since the steady flow of hormones prevent you from ovulating." If you're not, you can use these two symptoms of ovulation — plus the fact that your body temperature rises half a degree — as a guide to help prevent or promote pregnancy.