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What Is Lightning Crotch? This Aptly Named Feeling Is A Real Thing In Pregnancy

As a newly pregnant person, I’m surprised every day by new symptoms. I knew the nausea and fatigue would happen, and the indigestion and heartburn. But what I wasn’t prepared for was lightning crotch. What is lightning crotch, you say? Unfortunately, this aptly (and humorously) named phenomenon is exactly what it sounds like. And it’s a quite painful and shocking surprise when you suddenly feel like someone shot a volt of electricity right up and into your vagina and rectum simultaneously.

My best friend is actually pregnant at the same time as me, but with her second child. So I go to her for advice quite a bit as she’s already been there, and is there again. When I was woken up by a light saber to the vagina, I immediately texted my friend and asked what it means to feel like a gremlin with a fire dagger was going to town down there. “Hooray, welcome to lightning crotch,” she said. From a medical standpoint, lightning crotch is pain and discomfort in your pelvis and vagina and is “caused by increased blood flow to that area due to pregnancy and also by the enlarging uterus,” according to Dr. Diana Roth, an OB-GYN at Boro Park OB-GYN in Brooklyn, New York.

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And here I thought this was just something that indicated you were going into labor, which I sure as heck hoped I wasn’t since I was only eight weeks along at the time. Roth explains in an email interview with Romper, “Pain and discomfort are very common in early pregnancy, especially in the first trimester as your body is experiencing many new changes, including the uterus growing and increased blood flow to your pelvis. The uterus enlarging often means that your bladder is getting compressed — all of which can cause discomfort.” And is also why you have to pee a billion times a day, I might add.

When is the severity of pain and timing not OK and you need to call your OB-GYN right away? “If you get it very early in pregnancy and have already seen your OB-GYN and was diagnosed with an intrauterine pregnancy (i.e., in the womb) and no cysts were seen on the sonogram, then you don't need to be concerned unless you also experience vaginal bleeding with cramping,” Roth says. “If, however, you have pain and were not seen by your OB-GYN, then you need to contact your provider to ensure that the pain is not a sign of an ectopic pregnancy, you don’t have an ovarian cyst, and you don’t have a urinary tract infection."

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Additionally, Roth says you should alert your provider if pain is accompanied by nausea and vomiting or if you experience bleeding with the pain. “Regardless, even if you are feeling well, schedule your initial OB-GYN visit within two weeks of a positive pregnancy test,” Roth advises.

So what can you do about it? As far as treatment or prevention, there is none, except you can take your trusty pregnancy-safe acetaminophen to alleviate pain if it’s lingering and continuously uncomfortable.

If you’re suddenly doubled over for a brief second from a lightning bolt to the crotch, at least you can rest assured it’s completely normal, and you can add it to the list of oh so wonderful pregnancy symptoms. But when you’re closer to your due date, you may want to pay closer attention to those pains, as it could indicate you’re about to go into labor. But for now, just grin and bear it and breathe, as long as the pain isn’t accompanied by bleeding, nausea and vomiting. Hooray pregnancy, am I right?

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