pregnancy

'Lightning crotch': The common pregnancy pain most of us have never heard of.

The experience of ‘lightning crotch’ is said to be as uncomfortable as it sounds.

It’s a symptom of pregnancy that involves a sharp, “almost electric shooting pain” that fires into the vagina and in some cases the rectum. According to The Huffington Postmany women have been known to yell from the shock.

“It’s a burning, an electric shock or a shooting pain. It can go anywhere, in your clitoris, in the labia, in the vagina, in the area where you do a wee, in the anus in the rectum…” General Practitioner and television personality Dr Ginni Mansberg told Mamamia. 

“Some women say it almost feels like a painful orgasm, it’s that burning, tingling feeling,” she said.
Women on parenting forums describe the sensation as like a “zap from the inside,” or “like the baby has a switch blade and is trying to chisel their way out,” and report that the pain is most common in the late stages of pregnancy.

So, what does it mean? Why do some women experience it and others don’t? And what can you actually do about it?

Your pregnancy questions, answered. Post continues. 

According to Dr Mansberg – that pain colloquially referred to as ‘lightning crotch’ is most likely pudendal neuralgia, a specific form of nerve pain that originates from a damaged or irritated pudendal nerve.
“It’s basically nerve pain in the crotch,” she said, and the way you can you can tell is: “it’s got that flashing, lightning quality to it.”
Women who are not pregnant or have never been pregnant can experience ‘lightning crotch’ as a result of surgery, trauma to the area or even pelvic floor exercises. But for most women, pudendal neuralgia will present during pregnancy when the baby is sitting on your pelvic floor and the pudendal nerve is stressed.
Unfortunately, however, for some women, the pain doesn’t disappear once they’ve given birth.
Dr Mansberg explained that for a small percentage of women the pain continues, and treatment options include seeing a physiotherapist or osteopath experienced in pudendal nerve damage or medication.

But if the pain is fleeting, and you are in the late stages of pregnancy, there are lots of ways to manage it.

Firstly, Dr Mansberg advises that you ensure your bowel movements are regular, as constipation can cause strain and in turn put pressure on the nerve. As well as managing your constipation, ensure you don’t hold on too long when you need to urinate, as this too can irritate the nerve.

Often, you’ll need to change how you’re sitting to “minimise the way the nerve is compressed”. Dr Mansberg suggests a foam cushion to alter your position.

Though it might sound obvious, anything like riding a bike or even having sex can put too much pressure on that area as well. “You might just need to cut that out temporarily,” Dr Mansberg said, until the pain subsides.

The condition is relatively under-diagnosed, and if you experience any pain in your vagina or surrounding areas, especially if it’s recurring, it’s critical you visit your doctor.
 You can follow Dr Ginni Mansberg on Facebook or visit her website
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