Experiencing a typical pregnancy pain when you're not expecting a baby is not that uncommon. Recently Dr. Leah D. Tatum, Ob/Gyn at ARC North Austin Ob/Gyn commented in an article about this phenomenon, more colorfully called "lightning crotch!" Here's what she and other doctors have to say about this type of pelvic pain in this recent article on Romper.com.
What is lightning crotch?
Lightning crotch is the term commonly used to describe the sudden, sharp bolt of pain during pregnancy that can travel from the top of the round ligament (which is at the top of the uterus) and inserts into the labia. In general, lightning crotch during pregnancy can feel extremely intense for a brief moment here and there, but it doesn't necessarily mean anything about your overall health and is generally considered routine.
Lightning crotch outside pregnancy
There are some instances in which people may experience lightning crotch when they aren't pregnant. Overall view of the many, many potential reasons someone may experience pelvic pain when they are not expecting a baby. A few include:
- UTIs — "This type of pain may be a symptom of a urinary tract infection; however, it would typically include other symptoms such as cloudy urine or a burning sensation when you pee," says Dr. Tatum. Keep an eye out for the other early signs of a UTI such as a frequent need to urinate, as well as an unpleasant odor in the urine.
- Cervical Cramps — The timing of your cycle. Pain at the time or just before menstruation may be related to cervical cramps and is benign in nature.
- Endometriosis — Pain caused by endometriosis may also manifest itself as intermittent sharp stabbing pain, which may be most frequent and severe at the time of menstruation.
- IUD Irritation — An intrauterine device (IUD) pressing on cervical tissue can cause sharp, stabbing pain. For the most part, though, IUD users have a very low risk of adverse outcomes, according to a 2017 review in Contraception. If you have any concerns about your device, contact your gynecologist for a check-up.
- Nerve Disorders — For women experiencing this type of pelvic pain who aren't pregnant, it could be due to a number of underlying conditions or nerve disorders such as fibromyalgia, vaginismus, or vestibulitis.
- Ovarian Cyst — Although the way ovarian cysts impact your fertility is often a top concern for people who have them, the cysts themselves can potentially be bothersome.
- Ovarian Torsion — One of the most serious conditions that can cause this type of pain is ovarian torsion, where an ovary twists itself on its pedicle. This condition is uncommon and usually causes severe prolonged pelvic pain which may last for hours, rather than seconds. The odds of experiencing this condition are very low for most people.
- Ovulation — Sometimes ordinary body functions, like ovulation, can cause the nerve to interpret the signals as pain, therefore the sensation of lightning. If short-lived and sporadic; it is usually not a concern.
When to see a doctor
So how do you know when this specific kind of pain signals some ordinary body function, or something that needs to be checked out? Because there are so many different things that can cause lightning crotch-type pain, see a doctor if you have any concerns about your health, particularly for intense pains.
If you do decide to see a doctor for the pain, be sure to mention any additional symptoms as well. "Discussing the timing of this pain during your cycle, history of similar pain, potential injuries, and other symptoms will help your provider determine the cause," says Dr. Tatum.
To book an appointment with Dr. Tatum, call ARC North Austin Ob/Gyn at 512-994-2662, or do so online at ARCBookNow.com.