What Is Lightning Crotch Pain in Pregnancy?
Pregnancy comes with a lot of aches and pains. Some give off an achy feeling, like round ligament pain, but one of the most alarming is symphysis pubis, also known as lightning crotch pain. This electric-jolt-like stabbing pain in the pelvic area can be intense, and can stop a pregnant woman in her tracks. However, it isn’t discussed as widely as other pregnancy symptoms such as Braxton-Hicks contractions, back pain and sciatica.
As a woman’s due date draws closer, these sharp jolts of pain can become more frequent. Lightning crotch pain is a normal thing to experience in pregnancy, and it is usually not a sign of labor. Unlike contractions, which occur at regular intervals, lightning crotch pains are more random. Knowing how to differentiate between different types of pregnancy pains can help to identify what pain you are experiencing and what you can do to help yourself.
Symptoms and Causes of Lightning Crotch Pain
The strong, sharp twinges of lightning crotch pain happen suddenly, typically lasting from 15 to 60 seconds. The name “lightning crotch” comes from the electric shock-like feeling of this intense pelvic pain in the rectum, vagina, pubic bone, or pelvis. The first time you experience lightning crotch pain may feel alarming, but it is normal, and can become more frequent as your growing baby becomes heavier and drops toward the birth canal.
Despite the rather frightening name, lightning crotch pain is not dangerous. It is a sign that your baby is moving and getting ready to enter the world. When the baby moves, stretches, kicks, or changes position, its head puts pressure on the nerve endings, causing lightning crotch pain. Due to the similar symptoms, symphysis pain is sometimes confused with sciatica, or the pain caused by varicose veins, which can also show up in your vaginal area in pregnancy.
When Does Lightning Crotch Pain Start?
Lightning crotch pain is most commonly experienced during the third trimester of pregnancy. To some, it may feel similar to round ligament pain: hip pain that typically begins in the second trimester. Lightning crotch pain is a sign that the baby is getting ready for birth, though it may not mean that you will be going into labor immediately.
However, according to the Cleveland Clinic, experiencing lightning crotch pain in addition to loose stools, fatigue, unusual energy levels, cramping and pelvic pressure are strong hints that labor is coming very soon. A gynecologist will check for dilation as a pregnant woman gets closer to her estimated due date, but it’s important to keep them updated with any changes in symptoms.
Getting Relief From Lightning Crotch Pain
While lightning crotch pain can be very painful, home remedies can help bring relief.
- If you change positions from sitting or laying to standing or slowly moving, you can reduce the intensity of the shooting pain.
- A warm bath can help relax your muscles and ease aches. Wearing a belly band lifts the abdomen, taking away pressure and in turn reducing pain.
These remedies can help with other pregnancy discomforts, including round ligament pain, pelvic bone pain, and a backache. Keep in mind that lower back pain resembling menstrual cramps could be a sign of labor. If these pains are consistent, it is a good idea to get ready to head to the hospital or birthing center.
Wellness and taking care of yourself throughout pregnancy is important, and for many, gentle exercise may be an important part of that routine in order to maintain a healthy pregnancy. However, frequent bending, twisting, or lifting, can worsen this pain, so these exercises should be kept to a minimum. Low impact, light exercise like walking or water aerobics may be a better option further into your pregnancy than doing yoga, but if you are wondering what workouts might be best for your specific situation, ask your doctor.
When to Get Help for Lightning Crotch Pain
If you experience lightning crotch pain that goes beyond a minute or feels severe, or if it is accompanied by sudden or heavy vaginal bleeding, heavy discharge, headaches, or a fever, go to the emergency room. It could be a sign of other complications, such as preeclampsia or preterm labor, If you notice any spotting that is brief or light, it is still a good idea to contact your ob-gyn or healthcare provider for medical advice.
Like other pelvic pains experienced during pregnancy, lightning crotch pain is usually a normal pregnancy symptom. While home remedies like baths and support bands can help ease intensity and provide comfort, there is no formal treatment for this pain. Discussing concerns with your obgyn can help ease your mind, but just know that this discomfort means you are getting closer to meeting your little one!
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Stephanie Sokol is a writer and editor from the Chicago area. She has a background in news and marketing and has been writing for more than a decade.