What Is Lightning Crotch and Why Does It Happen During Pregnancy?

Being pregnant can come with a host of surprises, but you might not think intense sporadic pain that feels like electric shocks in your vagina would be one of them. What some have coined "lightning crotch" can happen during pregnancy to some women.

What is lightning crotch?

Also known as symphysis pubis dysfunction, lightning crotch is an actual medical condition characterized by sharp, shooting pains in the crotch or groin area, usually during pregnancy, Mary Jane Minkin, MD, a clinical professor of obstetrics and reproductive sciences at Yale University School of Medicine, told Health. Not all pregnant individuals experience it, and a person can have lightning crotch during one pregnancy but not necessarily every pregnancy.

What Causes Lightning Crotch?

Lightning crotch is triggered by changes to the pubic symphysis—a joint that lies between the left and right pubic bones. The hormone relaxin, which is produced during pregnancy, causes the pubic symphysis to separate in preparation for delivery, and it's this separation that actually causes the pain. "Some people feel a zip of pain, while some people feel chronically achy," said Dr. Minkin.

What Does Lightning Crotch Feel Like?

Is Lightning Crotch a Sign of Labor or That Something Is Wrong?

No, according to Dr. Minkin; lightning crotch may be disruptive and painful, but it's not dangerous. "People can actually experience this substantially before labor," said Dr. Minkin. However, if lightning crotch is accompanied by lower back pain, nausea, consistent contractions, and blood-tinged vaginal discharge, it's important to get to the hospital ASAP, as these are signs of labor.

How To Ease or Prevent Lightning Crotch

"Usually sitting down or changing position can be beneficial because it takes the pressure of the uterus off of the rest of the pelvis," explained Dr. Minkin. She also recommended trying a belly support belt or girdle to help with pelvic support. A heating pad or taking an over-the-counter pain reliever can work as well. "As long as [the pain goes] away, it's nothing to worry about," said Dr. Minkin.

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