During pregnancy, many women experience pelvic pain or discomfort in the pelvis. This is because a growing uterus causes ligaments to stretch, hormone levels to fluctuate, and organs to move around. In some cases, however, pain in women may indicate something more serious.
What Are The Common Causes of Pelvic Pain During Pregnancy?
There can be a variety of causes for mild pelvic pain during pregnancy, including relaxed pelvic joints or weight gain from your growing baby. Contact your health care provider whenever you experience pain that doesn’t go away or when you experience symptoms like bleeding, unusual discharge, or intense cramping.
A cramp-like pain that feels like your period may begin between weeks eight and twelve of pregnancy. There’s probably nothing to worry about this kind of pelvic pain as long as you’re not bleeding. You will feel less of this during your first pregnancy than in subsequent pregnancies.
They are very common, noncancerous, and generally harmless as they develop due to changes in how your ovaries produce eggs or release them. For example, during pregnancy, your ovaries can grow larger, and the pressure your growing uterus puts on them can cause persistent pelvic pain.
Pelvic pain may suddenly worsen if a cyst ruptures. Tell your gynecologist if you’ve had ovarian cysts before or if you suspect you’ve developed them while pregnant. If the cysts have grown too large, your doctor can perform an ultrasound.
The cyst can twist in rare cases (called torsion)-usually after sudden or vigorous activity, like running to catch the bus or having an intimate relationship. A patient with torsion is usually inconsolable. In addition, there may be nausea, vomiting, sweating, and sharp, chronic, or severe pain. Consult your gynecologist immediately if you believe you are experiencing torsion.
Round Ligament Pain
Round ligament pain is the most common cause of pelvic pain in pregnancy. It occurs especially during the second trimester of pregnancy. You may experience pain along your side because the ligament connecting the uterus to the groin stretches. It’s one of the common symptoms for women to feel this kind of pain while walking or rising from a chair. This is because the ligaments in the uterus pull on each other and cause the sensation. The pain should go away in about 24 weeks when you lie down on the side that bothers you.
Pelvic Pain and Pressure From Your Baby’s Weight
As your fetus grows, it presses down on the nerves that run from your vagina into your legs, causing pressure in your pelvic region. Because of the baby’s bouncing, this pelvic pain usually occurs when moving, such as when you walk or ride in a car. Try lying flat on your back to relieve the discomfort.
Pelvic Congestion Syndrome
Pelvic congestion syndrome is a condition that causes chronic pelvic pain. It’s thought to be caused by problems with the veins in the pelvic area. This is the lower part of your belly (abdomen). Veins are the blood vessels that carry blood back to the heart.
Braxton Hicks Contractions
Pressure or tightening in the pelvis that comes and goes could be contractions. Still, if they’re sporadic and generally not painful, they’re most likely practice contractions, called Braxton Hicks, instead of true labor contractions. These Braxton hicks contractions tend to occur in pregnant women around 20 weeks and can be triggered by dehydration, so drink plenty of water. (You’ll know it’s a contraction if you lie down and feel your belly; your uterus will become hard and then relax.)
They should disappear on their own but if you have more than four Braxton hicks contractions an hour for two hours, call your doctor. When talking about preterm labor, generally before 37 weeks, we look for contractions every 15 minutes or closer that persist over two hours, even if the patient has an empty bladder and is lying down.
Relaxed Pelvic Joints
Toward the end of your pregnancy, you’ll experience a surge in the hormone relaxin, which helps your ligaments become stretchy for childbirth. Unfortunately, Relaxin can loosen your pelvic joints and even cause them to separate a bit. As a result, it’s common to feel pain near your pubic bone, and you may also feel like your legs are unstable. Some women like to use pelvic support belts to help stabilize the area.
Constipation, a common pregnancy complaint, can cause pelvic pain or discomfort. (Hormones slow down the digestive tract, as do the iron supplements your gynecologist may recommend.) Drink plenty of water, and eat fiber-rich foods such as raw fruits and vegetables. If that doesn’t help, ask your gynecologist if you can try a stool softener or a glycerin suppository.
Can Pelvic Pain In Pregnancy Be Serious?
Some women develop serious complications during pregnancy that cause different types of pain. If you have pelvic pain coupled with certain symptoms, such as fever and bleeding, call your doctor immediately. Here are the more serious causes of pelvic pain during pregnancy.
When women experience abdominal pain in the first trimester, they always have to be concerned about miscarriage because the unfortunate fact is that 15 to 20 percent of pregnancies end in miscarriage. Symptoms of miscarriage include bleeding and cramping that can be rhythmic or resemble menstrual cramps.
Ectopic or tubal pregnancies, in which the egg implants someplace other than the uterus, most often in the fallopian tube, occur in 1 in 50 pregnancies, according to the March of Dimes. In the unlikely event of an ectopic pregnancy, you may experience intense pain and bleeding as the tube becomes distended between your 6th and 10th weeks of pregnancy.
Women at increased risk for ectopic pregnancy include those who have a medical history of ectopic pregnancy in the past or have had pelvic, abdominal, or fallopian tube surgery, and those who have had endometriosis, a tubal ligation, an intrauterine device (IUD) in place at the time of conception, or a pelvic infection. In addition, an abnormally shaped uterus and artificial reproductive techniques also seem to increase the risk.
Ectopic pregnancies cannot continue and require immediate medical treatment. Suppose you had a positive pregnancy test but have not yet had your pregnancy confirmed by a medical exam, and you experience abdominal pain. In that case, you should get a pelvic examination by your gynecologist.
If you’re experiencing a persistent backache and pelvic pressure that comes and goes, you may be in labor. My rule is that if you have four or more contractions an hour and they continue for two hours, even after you have urinated and lain down, you should come in to be checked. If these symptoms occur before 37 weeks, it’s considered preterm labor.
Uterine fibroids are noncancerous growths of the uterus. They’re most common during your childbearing years, and pregnancy can stimulate fibroids to get larger; they may or may not hurt. When a fibroid overgrows, it can outgrow its blood supply and degenerate, causing pain. We often observe them in pregnant women, but once in a while, they have to be surgically excised to allow the pregnancy to continue.
Another unlikely but severe cause of pain: Your ovaries can become twisted. This can happen at any point but is more likely to occur during the early stages of pregnancy. The ovary is like a hammock or spindle, so it can flip over on itself and cut off its blood supply. A risk factor for ovarian torsion is ovulation induction because it can cause enlarged ovaries. Symptoms include lower abdominal pain, nausea, and fever.
You can experience inflammation of the appendix even if you’re pregnant. Generally, you would feel a sharp pain in the lower right of your abdomen. However, appendicitis in women can be sneaky during pregnancy because the appendix is pushed up higher in the abdomen as you get further along. Appendicitis is an inflammatory disease that requires emergency surgery to remove the appendix to avoid the risk of rupturing.
You may have a kidney stone if you feel severe waxing and waning pain progressing down your side. Usually, we make women more comfortable and just wait for the stone to pass. Talk to your healthcare provider if you suspect that you have kidney stones to get an accurate diagnosis and treatment options.
What Can I Do To Help Ease Pelvic Pain Symptoms Myself?
Try These Tips:
- Take a warm–never hot–bath or stand in the shower and let the water hit your back.
- Try a pelvic support garment to keep the uterus from pushing down on your pelvis.
- Wear low-heeled shoes with good arch support.
- Try to avoid quick movements and sharp turns at the waist.
- Get a prenatal massage.
- Exercise regularly–could help prevent pain in the first place.
- Seek medical advice if you think pain is getting worse.