All About Lightning Crotch

Liesel Teen, RN-BSN

By Liesel Teen, BSN, RN

As an expectant mama, you are no stranger to the unpleasantries that often accompany pregnancy. One of them that you might have had the pleasure of experiencing (or might in the near future…), is lightning crotch! 

Lightning, what?!

Don’t worry if you’ve never heard of lightning crotch before. Most women aren’t aware it’s a thing until they experience the shooting pain in their vagina for themselves. Ouch!

So, what exactly is lightning crotch? As the name suggests, lightning crotch is a sudden, sharp pain that many women report feeling at some point during their pregnancy.

In this article you’ll learn all about lightning crotch, including:

  • What it is
  • Causes
  • Symptoms
  • When it most commonly occurs
  • And ways to find relief

If you are ready, let’s dive in!

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What is lightning crotch?

Lightning crotch is a sudden, sharp pain in your vagina, rectum, or pelvis that many mamas feel towards the end of their pregnancy. Most women report that it increases in frequency and intensity as their due date nears. This is due to the increase in pressure from your growing baby!

Lightning crotch often comes on without any warning and is normally short-lived. Episodes occur in quick, painful bursts. While some people might mistake it for other pregnancy-related ailments, lightning crotch is actually its own thing. 

Round ligament pain and sciatic nerve pain are other uncomfortable sensations you may feel in the pelvic area…but neither are quite the same as lightening crotch. 

Learn more about these and other causes of pelvic pain in pregnancy here.

Symptoms of lightning crotch: What does lightning crotch feel like?

Most describe it feeling like an electrical shock or a feeling similar to when you hit your funny bone. It’s crazy, but when it happens it can definitely take your breath away. Are you nodding your head in agreement right now? Ha.

Generally, the sensation doesn’t last longer than 15-60 seconds. And the intensity of the symptoms can vary from person to person and even from day to day. 

There’s no clear reason why lightning crotch occurs, but many believe it is due to the increasing pressure that baby’s head is putting on surrounding things in the pelvis. And the good news is that it’s no cause for concern – just another one of those unexpected things you get to experience during pregnancy.

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What causes lightning crotch?

As I mentioned previously, the cause of lightning crotch is not well understood, but it is thought to be related to baby’s head putting pressure on your cervix, vagina, and pelvis. As baby moves, the nerve that runs to the cervix can be aggravated, causing sharp pain. 

Some hypothesize that it’s also related to baby dropping lower into the pelvis as you get closer to your due date. This would make sense, as most women experience lightning crotch in the last few weeks leading up to their due date. 

When does lightning crotch usually happen?

Lightening crotch is most common in the last 4-6 weeks of pregnancy. It’s not uncommon for baby to drop lower into the pelvis as you get closer to your due date. 

Sometimes when this happens, women notice certain pregnancy-related symptoms become more intense or more frequent with lightning crotch being one of them. Others include things like low back pain, sciatica pain, the urge to use the bathroom, urinary incontinence, and more.

Related Reading: Must Haves for Common Third Trimester Discomforts

How can you get relief from lightning crotch?

Unfortunately, there’s no way to completely prevent lightning crotch from occurring but there are some things that might bring you some relief!

  • Belly support band: A belly band can help relieve some of the pressure on the pelvis 
  • Change positions: Simply changing positions might be enough to get baby to move and relieve pressure from whatever they are pushing up against
  • Swimming: Swimming is such a wonderful way to experience a feeling of weightlessness during pregnancy! Not only can it prevent lightning crotch, but you’ll also experience relief from swollen joints, an aching back, and more
  • Prenatal massage: Similarly, massage can help bring relief to lightning crotch and many other late pregnancy discomforts
  • Warm bath: And again, this is not only good for lightning crotch but can also relieve other pregnancy-related aches and pains. Are you sensing a theme here? 🙂

Should I call my provider if I experience lightning crotch?

Generally speaking, lightning crotch is a normal part of pregnancy and is nothing to be concerned about, especially if it resolves quickly and isn’t happening all the time. 

Lightning crotch alone normally doesn’t warrant a call to your OB provider but if you are experiencing lightning crotch accompanied by any of the following symptoms, definitely let your provider know:

  • Vaginal bleeding
  • Cramping and/or contractions
  • Significant pelvic pressure
  • Pain that doesn’t resolve 
  • Severe pain
  • Decreased or unusual fetal movement 

Related Reading: 5 Important Signs to Call Your Doctor When Pregnant!

The Bottom Line 

Well mama, there you have it! Everything you need to know about lightning crotch all laid out for you. I know it can be painful and unpleasant but rest assured that lightning crotch is normally harmless and is generally over as quickly as it began! 

Hopefully this article has equipped you with some good information and tips should you experience lightning crotch during pregnancy.

Feel free to check out my additional resources below to further your learning about this and other third-trimester discomforts:

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Liesel Teen, BSN-RN
Founder, Mommy Labor Nurse

Meet Liesel Teen

Hi there. I’m Liesel!

As a labor and delivery nurse, I’ve spent countless hours with women who felt anxious — even fearful — about giving birth. I want you to know it doesn’t have to be that way for you!

When you know what to expect and have the tools to navigate the experience, you’ll feel confident and in control.

I believe you deserve a better birth — no matter how you deliver.