Self, Health And Wellness

What Is Means When A Woman Has Pain In Her Vagina (AKA 'Lightning Crotch')

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What Is Lightning Crotch? Why Women Feel Sharp Pelvic & Vaginal Pain During Pregnancy

My best friend Jesse was heavily pregnant the first time I heard those words ... lightning crotch.

When she initially told me that this was an actual thing she was experiencing, I was confused. Had pregnancy riddled her mind? Was she now convinced that she was some sort of superhero who could shoot bolts of pure fury from her angry vagina?

Of course, I didn't ask any of my probing questions because I learned early on that it's not a brilliant idea to question a pregnant woman about anything.

(If I'm being honest, I learned that lesson as a child watching my mom endure three additional pregnancies after popping me out. I vividly remember standing over her bed trying to explain to her that she could not subsist on orange popsicles and orange popsicles alone. I also recall then blacking out in fear as her eyes began to narrow and I scuttled from the room to fetch her the very same orange popsicles I had been so skeptical about mere moments before.)

So I let that sleeping dog lie and asked for zero explanation whatsoever.

But what, you may now be asking, is lightning crotch?

Turns out it's a horrifying nickname attached to the sharp, shooting pains some pregnant women feel in their vulva, vagina, rectum and/or pelvic floor.

As a bonus, they may also feel jolts of pain shoot down their legs.

RELATED: 8 Things Your Vagina Desperately Wants You To Know

I didn't think much about lightning crotch (other than sometimes suggesting someone should use it as a name for their rock band) for years ... until my friend Gabby got pregnant.

I spent a lot of time around her — she is, after all, dating my boyfriend — and I noticed that the more pregnant she grew, the more difficult it became for her to stand up without feeling a good amount of pain. I grimaced along with her as she grimaced.

Finally, one day she could take it no more. "This damn lightning crotch!" she cried.

I knew this couldn't be some mere coincidence. While both my best friend and Gabby are women of immense imagination, I doubted each of them on their own could both have come up with such a singular phrase.

It was then I asked her to explain what lightning crotch was to me. And it was when she answered me that I continued adding to the ever-developing grudge I hold against the medical community for not being more up front with the public about all of the absolutely ridiculous things that happen to a woman's body when she is brewing up an entire person inside of it.

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The sensation typically comes and goes, and is most often experienced in the process of either sitting down or standing up.

Later in the pregnancy, it may also be experienced whenever the baby shifts its little bod around inside of you.

The good news is that while this can be uncomfortable, it's nothing to be alarmed about. I mean, as much as a person not become alarmed when feeling as though lightning is suddenly zapping their most sensitive parts.

What causes lightning crotch?

The pain itself can be caused by your baby's head pushing up against your cervix or your baby putting pressure on the nerve endings around your pelvic floor.

According to board-certified OB/GYN Idries Abdur-Rahman, "The majority of nerves in the uterus are actually right by the cervix... Regardless of the baby's position, if something's pressing on your cervix, it can stimulate those nerves."

Peter Ahlering, M.D., an OB/GYN at the Missouri Center for Reproductive Medicine, adds that varicose veins in your labia and vagina could also be a factor:

"There's increasing pressure from the enlarging uterus, so the blood from everything below it doesn't make its way effectively upward as it typically does. That pressure changes cause dilation of those veins," he says.

Sounds fun, right?

Lightning crotch typically occurs when you are closer to delivery, but it can start much earlier as well.

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Should I talk to my doctor about it?

If you are in the early stages of your pregnancy or you are experiencing additional symptoms like a fever, weird discharge or bleeding, do not pass go and do not collect 200 dollars.

Go straight to your doctor.

Can it be cured?

One of the key ways to ease this kind of discomfort and pain is to stay active.

And that is because the world is unfair to women.

I kid, I kid...

But seriously, who wants to go for a walk when their crotch is on fire?

RELATED: 9 Cartoons That Sum Up Exactly What It Feels Like To Be Pregnant

Another way to alleviate some of that discomfort is to wear support garments.

Yup. Vaginal support garments do exist.

There are vagina bras in this world, primarily to offer relief to a woman's pelvic floor muscles during this time. Weirdly, they are also kind of lacy and cute-looking for something that is designed to help your vagina from falling out of your body.

Strengthening your pelvic floor prior to pregnancy by doing your kegels or other tightening exercises can be a great way to keeping these searing bolts out of the blue from slowing you down.

Above all, know that lightning crotch is a scary and bizarre name for something that's generally harmless and pretty common among pregnant women.

And now you know what it is, what causes it, and when you need to worry about it, go out there and find you some fancy vagina bras!

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Rebecca Jane Stokes is freelance lifestyle writer living in Brooklyn, New York with her cat, Batman. For more of her work, check out her Tumblr.

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