What Is Lightning Crotch During Pregnancy?

Medically Reviewed By Sanaz Ghazal, MD, FACOG
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Some people use the term “lightning crotch” to describe a sharp, shooting pain in the groin or vaginal area that can occur late in pregnancy. In people who are not pregnant, the pain can occur for other reasons. This article will discuss what lightning crotch is and what may cause it. It will also discuss other types of pelvic pains in pregnancy and when to contact a doctor for lightning crotch.

What is lightning crotch?

Overhead view of unseen pregnant person with dog
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The colloquial term for a sudden, sharp pain that may feel like a jolt in the pelvis, vaginal area, or groin is “lightning crotch.” Lightning crotch is not a medical diagnosis.

Is lightning crotch a symptom of labor?

The pain associated with lightning crotch is not a symptom of labor. Labor pains or Braxton Hicks contractions feel like intense menstrual cramps. If labor starts, these contractions will have a regular pattern and become more frequent.

Is lightning crotch something to worry about during pregnancy?

Lightning crotch is usually not something to worry about during pregnancy. The pain is not associated with a complication of pregnancy. Although the pain can be uncomfortable, it does not harm the fetus and usually goes away quickly.

If the pain does not subside after a few seconds or minutes, it may be a symptom of a health condition. Talk with your OB-GYN or nurse midwife if you have any symptoms that cause you concern.

What are the symptoms of lightning crotch?

Lightning crotch may feel different from person to person, but descriptions of this pain often mention symptoms including a:

  • sudden jolt of pain in the groin or vaginal area
  • pain that is brief but intense
  • pins-and-needles or stinging sensation

Lightning crotch pain usually only lasts a few seconds. If you experience intense pain for longer than this, contact your OB-GYN or nurse midwife.

When does lightning crotch during pregnancy start?

Lightning crotch can happen at any point during pregnancy, though it is more common during the third trimester.

What causes lightning crotch?

People can experience a sudden stabbing pain in the groin or genital areas for several reasons, both during a pregnancy and outside of one.

During pregnancy

Many nerves supply the pelvis, vagina, vulva, rectum, and inner thighs. As you get closer to labor, the fetus typically drops into the lower part of the uterus. As the fetus lowers in the pelvis, the nerves in the pelvis and vagina can compress, which can cause sudden pain.

Outside of pregnancy

Other conditions unrelated to pregnancy can cause sudden, severe pelvic or groin pain. These include:

What are other types of pelvic pain during pregnancy?

It is common to experience types of pelvic pains during pregnancy. In most cases, these pains are unharmful and do not indicate a problem.

The pains include round ligament pain, which occurs when the ligaments that support the uterus stretch as the fetus grows, and pelvic girdle pain, which describes a group of symptoms that can occur due to stiffness in your pelvic joints or uneven movement in the joints around your pelvis.

Serious causes of pelvic pain during pregnancy

Some types of pelvic pains — particularly those that occur with other symptoms, such as bleeding — could indicate a serious condition that requires medical treatment. These include:

What are home remedies for lightning crotch?

Lightning crotch will go away on its own after a few moments.

When lightning crotch occurs, you can try to relieve the pain by changing positions. This may help move the fetus off the nerves and remove the pressure causing pain. Wearing a support band around your belly may also help ease the pressure of the fetus on your pelvic nerves.

Some other remedies to help relieve the pain of lightning crotch include improving your posture, increasing your flexibility through stretching, taking a warm bath, and prenatal massage.

When should you contact a doctor for lightning crotch?

Lightning crotch can be painful, but it usually only lasts for a few moments. If you have sharp pain that persists, contact your OB-GYN or nurse midwife.

Pain that occurs with other symptoms could indicate a more serious condition that requires treatment. Contact your doctor or nurse midwife if you experience:

When in doubt, contact your OB-GYN or nurse midwife for any pregnancy symptoms that cause you concern.

Summary

Some people use the term “lightning crotch” to describe a sudden, sharp pain in the groin or vaginal area. Most often, lightning crotch describes this type of pain when it occurs during pregnancy.

Lighting crotch often occurs as intense but brief pain. It is temporary and not a cause for concern.

If you have pain that persists or you experience other symptoms with lightning crotch — such as bleeding or a fever — contact your OB-GYN or nurse midwife.

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Medical Reviewer: Sanaz Ghazal, MD, FACOG
Last Review Date: 2022 Aug 1
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