You may experience mild bloating around days 11 to 14 of your monthly cycle. This bloating typically happens before or around the time of ovulation.
Ovulation occurs when a mature egg is released from your ovaries. It’s then pushed down the fallopian tube and is available to be fertilized. Most women ovulate between days 11 and 21 of their monthly cycle.
Bloating around the time of ovulation may be caused by a rise in estrogen levels before the LH (luteinizing hormone) surge. The LH surge occurs just before ovulation.
Fluid retention around ovulation should only last one to two days. Speak with your doctor about treatment options if bloating continues or you think you’re experiencing a medical condition causing you to bloat.
You should also see your doctor if you’re concerned or experience bloating that doesn’t go away after a few days. Mid-cycle bloating may be caused by a medical condition such as polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), endometriosis, or an ovarian cyst.
Also seek medical help right away if you experience bloating along with sudden or severe pelvic pain, or pain with a fever or vomiting.
Ovulation symptoms are obvious for some women. It’s also possible to ovulate without any noticeable symptoms.
Common symptoms include:
- Change in vaginal secretion. You may notice an increase in clear, wet, and stretchy discharge in underwear or when you wipe after using the toilet.
- Change in basal body temperature. Basal body temperature rises slightly during ovulation. You can track this with a thermometer at the same time first thing in the morning, before getting out of bed.
- Change in cervical position. During ovulation, the cervix will be high, soft, open, and wet, but it can be difficult to tell the difference between this and how the cervix usually feels. Check your cervix regularly so that you’ll be more likely to notice changes.
In addition to bloating, some secondary (less consistent) ovulation symptoms may include:
- light spotting
- slight cramping on one side of the pelvis
- breast tenderness
- increased sex drive
- heightened sense of smell, taste, or vision
If you’re trying to conceive, have sex regularly starting five days before ovulation and on the day of ovulation to improve your chances of pregnancy.
You can track ovulation using an ovulation predictor kit or using a basal body thermometer.
The easiest way to tell if you’re experiencing ovulation bloating or menstrual bloating is to track when in your monthly cycle the bloating happens.
Ovulation bloating will occur mid-cycle, on days 11 to 14 after your menstrual period.
Menstrual, or PMS bloating, will start after ovulation. Most likely, it will start one week before your expected menstrual period and can last up to one week after. It may also occur along with other PMS symptoms, which may include:
- swollen breasts or breast tenderness
- constipation or diarrhea
- headache or fatigue
- mood swings
If you’re feeling bloated around the time of ovulation, the following may help reduce your symptoms:
- Drink plenty of water throughout the day.
- Limit salt in your diet.
- Try a magnesium supplement (with a doctor’s approval).
- Get regular aerobic exercise throughout the month.
- Practice relaxation techniques, such as yoga and meditation.
If you want more tips, here are 11 proven ways to reduce or eliminate bloating.
Symptoms, including mild bloating and cervical discharge, around the time of ovulation may be obvious for some women. Or you may not notice any ovulation symptoms. For that reason, if you’re trying to conceive, talk to your doctor about the best way to track ovulation. They may recommend an ovulation predictor kit, or have you track your basal body temperature.
Also talk to your doctor if you’re under 35 and have been trying unsuccessfully to get pregnant for more than 12 months, or are over 35 and have been trying to conceive for six months or longer.
If you’re concerned about bloating around ovulation or think it may be caused by another medical condition like PCOS or endometriosis, see your doctor for treatment options.
- Mayo Clinic Staff. (2018). Water retention: Relieve this premenstrual symptom. https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/womens-health/in-depth/water-retention/art-20044983?pg=1
- Premenstrual syndrome (PMS). (2018). https://www.womenshealth.gov/menstrual-cycle/premenstrual-syndrome
- Stachenfeld NS. (2008). Sex hormone effects on body fluid regulation. DOI: 10.1097/JES.0b013e31817be928
- Tobah YB. (2016). What ovulation signs can I look out for if I’m hoping to conceive? https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/getting-pregnant/expert-answers/ovulation-signs/faq-20058000
- White CP, et al. (2011). Fluid retention over the menstrual cycle: 1-year data from the prospective ovulation cohort. DOI: 10.1155/2011/138451