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Lightning Crotch During Pregnancy: Causes & Treatments

Medically Reviewed by Dr. Njoud Jweihan, MD
What is lightning crotch, and how do you deal with it?

Pregnancy comes with its fair share of awful side effects. But one you probably didn’t expect is lightning crotch.

You don’t find lightning crotch — it finds you. If you are pregnant and suffering from shooting pains in your vagina, you may be experiencing it.

With the help of our medical team, we’ll discuss this not-so-fun sensation, explain what causes it, and give you lots of options to help relieve the symptoms.

Figuring out if lightning crotch is the cause of your shooting pains can put your mind at ease and assure you that you’re OK.

Key Takeaways

  • Lightning crotch is a sudden, sharp pain in the pelvic or vaginal area during pregnancy, often caused by the baby’s position and pressure on nerve endings.
  • This pain is normal and typically occurs closer to delivery, but it’s important to consult a doctor if you experience it before 37 weeks or have additional symptoms like fever, vaginal bleeding, or abnormal discharge.
  • Potential causes of lightning crotch include magnesium deficiency, varicose veins, and round ligament pain.
  • Some ways to alleviate lightning crotch pain include exercise, yoga, swimming, massage, wearing a support brace, chiropractic adjustments, adjusting posture, and getting enough rest. Always consult your doctor before starting new activities or treatments during pregnancy.

What Is Lightning Crotch?

Lightning crotch is a nickname given to describe sudden, sharp pains that occur deep in your pelvis or vaginal area.

You may have heard of lightning pain before, as this is a sharp pain that can occur anywhere in the body. But when you are pregnant, you will most likely experience lightning pain in your pelvic or vaginal area — lightning crotch.

This pain is rightfully nicknamed, as it feels like a lightning strike radiating through your nether region and possibly down your legs. The pain is intense but quick. You may experience several strikes in a row, but it does not persist for extended periods.

You are most likely to experience this pain when you make a sudden movement or reposition yourself.

Is Lightning Crotch Normal?

During your pregnancy, you probably experience numerous aches and pains, and every single one has you wondering if something else is wrong.

But don’t worry about lightning crotch — it’s perfectly normal. It happens as you get closer to delivering your baby (1).

It is possible a pregnant woman may experience lightning crotch weeks before delivery. If you are one of these unlucky expectant mothers, hang in there!

Other than being uncomfortable, lightning crotch alone does not pose any harmful risks for you or your baby.

When To Call Your Doctor

Contact your doctor if your lightning pain is accompanied by a fever, vaginal bleeding, or abnormal discharge.

You should be especially cautious with lightning crotch if you experience this pain before 37 weeks.

If lightning crotch seems to interfere with your daily activities, you should consult your doctor.

Remember that lightning crotch pain can resemble the pain from a bladder infection. If you also have an increase in urinary frequency and burning or abnormal discharge along with this shooting pain, make sure to consult your doctor.
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Editor's Note:

Dr. Njoud Jweihan, MD

What Causes Lightning Crotch?

Lightning crotch occurs as your baby makes its way into the birthing position. When your baby is head down at the lower part of the uterus, you’ll experience added pressure on the pelvic and bladder region. The pressure and position of your baby as they descend into the birth canal can cause the onset of lightning pain.

The good news with lightning pain is that it indicates labor is near. This does not mean labor will happen in the next day or so. Lightning pain can persist for weeks before the onset of labor.

The lightning pain can be caused by your baby changing positions and putting pressure on nerve endings in the pelvis area. Or the pain may come from your baby’s head pushing directly against your cervix (2).

These are some other causes of lightning crotch:

  • Magnesium deficiency: It’s difficult for all individuals to get an adequate supply of magnesium. It is especially hard for a pregnant mother to get enough for two. Magnesium is helpful for proper nerve function, and a deficiency can intensify the pain associated with lightning crotch.
    Although many prenatal vitamins contain magnesium, sometimes the amount is insufficient. Talk to your doctor about taking magnesium supplements and other sources such as coconut water and electrolyte-containing sports drinks.
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    Editor's Note:

    Dr. Njoud Jweihan, MD
  • Varicose veins: We all know what varicose veins look like on the legs, but it’s possible to get them in the vaginal and rectal area when pregnant too. The presence of varicose veins can cause tingling pelvic pain that resembles the pain associated with lightning crotch.
  • Round ligament pain: Your round ligaments support your pelvis and uterus. They have to stretch during your pregnancy to accommodate your growing baby. Some women have higher hormone levels that can cause their round ligaments to stretch more than usual, and this overstretching can lead to lightning crotch.

Treatments for Lightning Crotch During Pregnancy

The ultimate struggle when pregnant is finding any possible way to keep yourself comfortable. This is no easy task, but there are specific things you can do to help ease some of your pain.

None of the following can directly “save” you from experiencing lightning crotch, but they can make you more comfortable during your pregnancy and possibly reduce the intensity of your pain.

  • Exercise: Staying active during pregnancy will help you feel better about yourself, manage your weight, and stay comfortable. You can benefit from even a short walk every day. This will help encourage your baby to move into a proper birthing position, hopefully not pinching any nerves.
  • Yoga: Yoga stretches will work wonders on your body and help keep your joints open and flexible. Another benefit of yoga is that it will teach you beneficial breathing techniques you can use when you are in labor to help you relax and push through contractions. Avoid exercises that stretch your round ligaments further and cause more discomfort.
  • Swimming: Lightning crotch usually occurs from the pain of your baby’s head pushing against your cervix. Swimming can help your body become weightless and ease some of that pressure. You don’t have to get too crazy in the pool, but an occasional swim will do your body good.
  • Limit certain movements: Lightning crotch can be onset by sudden movements. If you find you are doing a lot of twisting, bending, or lifting, you probably need to cut back.
  • Massage: Prenatal massage is designed for women during pregnancy. You have a lot of pressure in your sacral area, and a massage therapist can focus on sore muscles in that area that may be pulling on nerves and intensifying your lightning pain.
  • Wear a support brace: A supportive belly band will help lift your belly and take some of that pressure off your hips, joints, and even your cervix.
  • Chiropractic adjustments: A chiropractic adjustment can help release spine subluxations that can compress your nerves. Nerves play an integral part in the intensity of lightning pain, so this adjustment could provide you the relief you need.
  • Adjusting posture: Your posture may be distributing your weight in the wrong areas. It’s difficult to have proper posture when pregnant, but the slightest adjustment could be the difference between no pain and intense pain.
  • Rest: Yes, exercise is beneficial when you are pregnant, but it is also important to get a lot of sleep and rest. Carrying all that extra weight takes a toll on your body, and rest can give your body a chance to recover. Not to mention, resting can take some of that pressure off your cervix. You can help relieve some of the pain by taking a quick warm bath or applying a warm towel to the area. Make sure you avoid hot water, and if possible, don’t spend too much time in humid and warm environments.

You should always seek confirmation from your doctor before partaking in new activities or medical practices when you are pregnant. If something was considered safe earlier in your pregnancy, you should still ask again. As your pregnancy progresses, your limitations increase.


Can Lightning Crotch Mean You’re Dilating?

Not necessarily. “Lightning crotch,” or sharp, sudden pains in the pelvic area, are typically associated with the baby’s movement or position rather than dilation. These jolts often happen when the baby is settling into the birth canal, which might not coincide with dilation.

Does Lightning Crotch Mean Cervix is Thinning?

Like the question above, “lightning crotch” is generally not a sign of the cervix thinning (or effacing). It’s more likely to be caused by the baby’s position, movement, or pressure on nerves in the pelvic area.

Does Lightning Crotch Mean Baby Will Come Early?

While it might feel like your baby is trying to make an early escape, lightning crotch isn’t usually a sign of impending labor. It’s just your little one exploring their cramped quarters.

When Should I be Concerned About Lightning Crotch?

Usually, these pains are a normal part of pregnancy. But if the pain is severe, persistent, accompanied by other symptoms like bleeding, or if it’s causing you a lot of distress, always check with your healthcare provider. Better safe than sorry!

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Medically Reviewed by

Dr. Njoud Jweihan, MD

Dr. Njoud Jweihan is a medical doctor in Atlanta, Georgia with a passion for primary care and women’s health. She has over nine years of medical education and training experience. She also enjoys cooking, traveling and is excited to welcome her first child this summer!