Getting cramps when you are not expecting your period may feel a little confusing, but it is not necessarily unusual. In fact, the discomfort you feel in your stomach may be a sign that you are ovulating during your menstrual cycle.

According to Marco Mouanness, MD, an ob-gyn and fertility expert at the Rejuvenating Fertility Center, ovulation pain (also known as mittelschmerz) is common and typically feels like dull cramps or a sharp pain. Some patients may experience ovulation pain that feels a bit like menstrual cramps.

“It usually happens about 14 days before the onset of the period and indicates that the mature follicle has broken and released an egg in the abdomen,” he explained. The Mayo Clinic notes that this discomfort is typically experienced on one side of the abdomen.

So what exactly causes this spasmodic feeling during ovulation? As Dr. Mouanness explained, is the main culprit leakage of fluid inside the broken follicle, which causes irritation in the abdomen and the surrounding tissue.

This is understandable if you are a little thrown away the first time you feel cramps around ovulation, but that is usually not a cause for concern. Dr. Mouanness said the discomfort should subside within 24-48 hours. However, if you experience nausea, vomiting, fever, chills, abnormal bowel movements or urinary tract symptoms or persistent, severe or worsening pain, contact your doctor as Dr. Mouanness classified all of these symptoms as warning signs.

Not everyone experiences ovulation pain, so it’s not a big deal if you do not feel any discomfort either. Remember that any concerns are worth taking with your doctor, so do not hesitate to contact your doctor for questions or advice.