What Is Breakthrough Pain?

Breakthrough pain usually appears on only one side of the abdomen in the middle of the menstrual cycle, when ovulation is happening or about to happen. It can be very annoying when it becomes repetitive.

Most women experience different discomforts during their period, but this is not the only time in the menstrual cycle that can cause discomfort. There is also breakthrough pain which, as its name indicates, is that which appears between menstruation and menstruation.

Breakthrough pain usually appears in the days close to ovulation. That is, around day 14 of the cycle. Ovulation is the process by which the egg travels from the ovary to the fallopian tube.

This process is accompanied by inflammation, a hormonal peak and a series of events that can cause discomfort in the belly. It is estimated that almost 20% of women experience breakthrough pain. In this article we explain what you should know about it.

What is breakthrough pain?

Breakthrough pain originates from the ovulation process. This event takes place in the middle of the menstrual cycle. Logically, it only occurs in women of childbearing age who are menstruating.

During ovulation, one of the follicles that contain the ovum grows within the ovary. The walls of the ovary become distended and inflamed, and when the time comes, the follicle ruptures.

This breakdown and release of the egg is sometimes accompanied by blood and fluid that was inside the follicle. These fluids reach the peritoneum, which is the inner lining of the abdomen. The peritoneum becomes irritated and painful.

For this reason, breakthrough pain does not occur exactly at the time of ovulation, but can occur a little earlier and persist afterwards. In each cycle, ovulation occurs only in one of the two ovaries. In this way, breakthrough pain appears on only one side of the abdomen.

Many women experience it every cycle, although others only experience it on certain occasions. Also, breakthrough pain can change sides with each cycle. Even the duration is variable, since it can be momentary or persist for hours.

To distinguish breakthrough pain from other pathologies, it is important that women know their menstrual cycle. The fact that it is a stabbing discomfort, on only one side of the lower abdomen and that it coincides with ovulation, is defining for the diagnosis.

breakthrough pain

What can be done against breakthrough pain?

In the event of any pain or discomfort, the ideal is to go to the doctor to find out the cause. It is important to explain the characteristics of the pain to the doctor, as this alone can diagnose breakthrough pain. On some occasions gynecological examinations and ultrasound are performed to rule out other pathologies.

To treat breakthrough pain there are certain general measures that can help. For example, apply heat to the abdomen or rest when the discomfort appears. The truth is that most women do not require any other treatment.

However, there are medications that can help if the pain is too bad. The most recommended is to use non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as ibuprofen. They contribute significantly to reducing inflammation and pain, and are sold without a prescription.

Another alternative is to use oral contraceptives. The mechanism by which they act is by preventing ovulation. In this way, they also eliminate all the possible annoyances that the event can produce.

In conclusion

Breakthrough pain is one of the negative consequences that the menstrual cycle can have. Every woman works in a different way, and only around 20% suffer from it. In addition, it can have different characteristics and vary each cycle.

Therefore, it is important to know it and know how to distinguish it from other pathologies. If it becomes too annoying or disabling, it is essential to go to the doctor and try to choose the best solution for each specific case.

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