Abdominal cramping is perhaps one of the most common symptoms of ovulation. “For some women, there are telltale signs like sharp cramping on one side of the abdomen, but for others, there are no signs at all,” says Jennifer Conti, MD, obstetrician-gynecologist at Stanford University and private practice in Palo Alto, CA. “This is why getting pregnant or trying not to get pregnant can be challenging using just a calendar, especially if your periods are not like clockwork every month.” The mild cramping usually happens in the lower abdominal area, typically on one side of the pelvis, on the same side from which you release an egg, according to Fahimeh Sasan, DO, assistant professor of obstetrics, gynecology, and reproductive science at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai. “This pain is called ‘mittelschmerz,’ a German word meaning ‘middle’ and ‘pain’,” Dr. Sasan says, and it occurs mid-month for many women. If you have severe cramps, along with painful periods, talk to your doctor to rule out uterine fibroids or endometriosis.
Both breast pain and nipple soreness, regarded as secondary symptoms of ovulation, are direct results of the body preparing itself for pregnancy, explains Dr. Conti. The reproductive hormone progesterone prompts the breasts to begin retaining fluid, causing them to stretch out slightly. This often leads to soreness, tenderness, or particularly dense or heavy feeling breasts, typically in the days to week before your period. While common among many women, breast tenderness isn’t the best way to determine if you are ovulating, as it can also be symptomatic of PMS or pregnancy. And even though it is a sign you ovulated that month, it doesn’t typically correlate with the time of ovulation. That means it’s more useful in retrospect, not as a sign of current ovulation. You should still keep track of the symptoms.