What Is Pubic Symphysis Dysfunction in Pregnancy?

· February 12, 2019

As birth approaches, it’s common for pregnant women to experience discomfort related to pubic symphysis. Continue with today’s article to discover the dysfunction behind this pain and what you can do to relieve symptoms.

Pregnancy is a time in a woman’s life that is full of various emotions, feelings and physical changes that can sometimes be uncomfortable. Each trimester comes with different symptoms that, while completely normal, can often cause women to worry. 

Definitions of pubic symphysis and symphysis pubis dysfunction

Pubic symphysis, or symphysis pubis in Latin, refers to the cartilage that joins the two parts of the pubic bone. In general, this union is very resistant and calcified.

However, during pregnancy, women’s bodies release hormones like relaxin that make the symphysis pubis more flexible. This flexibility provides more space for the baby.

What Is Pubic Symphysis Dysfunction in Pregnancy?

This natural action on behalf of pregnant women’s bodies, on top of the pressure of a growing fetus, causes women a great deal of pain. This condition is known as symphysis pubis disorder (SPD) in pregnancy.

What is symphysis pubis dysfunction in pregnancy?

Symphysis pubis dysfunction in pregnancy is one of the most frequent pains that women experience during the last months of pregnancy. It refers to pain in the pelvis or in the pelvic girdle.

Pregnant women may experience pain in the front or back of their pelvis. This discomfort may be subtle, acute, stabbing, light or progressive.

In general, the resulting pain may disappear in a few minutes, and it can extend for several days and produce uncomfortable situations. 

While the disorder produces pain specifically in the groin and pelvis, it radiates towards the hips, back and the inner and outer thighs. This makes certain positions complicated, especially during the night hours.

How to treat the discomfort and pain related to the pubic symphysis during pregnancy

Pubic symphysis discomfort during pregnancy has to do with hormonal alterations and the pressure of a growing baby. 

It’s a condition that disappears after birth, though it can take several months to go away completely. However, there are several things mothers can do to relieve their pain.

Maintain good posture

Without a doubt, this is the best way to avoid the symptoms of symphysis pubis dysfunction during pregnancy. When standing or sitting, it’s important to stay as straight as possible, with legs aligned with the hips.

While sleeping, moms can place a pillow between their knees to keep the pelvis aligned. Finally, while getting up, women should do so slowly and gently.

What Is Pubic Symphysis Dysfunction in Pregnancy?

At the same time, you should avoid lifting heavy objects or performing exercises that increase pressure on this area of your body. Maintaining good posture and keeping your legs aligned symmetrically is ideal.

Perform low-impact exercises

Sitting or laying down all day can make things worse. Therefore, do low-impact exercises that you feel comfortable with. For example, swimming is ideal. Your body weight decreases while under water. 

This way, you can carry out activities that help you strengthen your pelvic and abdominal region. Stretching can also help you sleep better and recover faster after giving birth.

Proper footwear and special corsets

Ask your doctor about a special corset to reduce pressure on your pelvic bone. They help provide improved balance and reduce the pains that result from symphysis pubis dysfunction.

Also, avoid wearing heels, standing or crossing your legs for long periods of time, or lifting heavy objects.

Treatments without medication

Doctors should only recommend medication as a last resort. Therefore, try applying heat or an ice pack to the affected area and determine which best relieves your pain. 

A warm bath may also help you relax and get you ready to fall asleep. In the most severe cases, you can try physical therapy and localized massage.

To conclude, hormonal changes and pressure from the uterus can cause uncomfortable symptoms related to symphysis pubis.

This is a very common disorder that you can relieve by following the advice given by experts. If symptoms persist, be sure to talk to your doctor.

  • Ball, D. D. (2008). Biomecánica de la pelvis. Mediagraphic.
  • Freire Vila, E., De La Iglesia López, A., Del Corral Lorenzo, C., & Canedo Carballeira, M. E. (2010). Dolor pélvico en la embarazada. Disfunción de la sínfisis púbica. Revisión de la literatura. Revista de La Sociedad Espanola Del Dolor. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.resed.2010.08.001
  • Robledo Acinas, MM; Sánchez Sánchez, J. (2013). Determinacion de la edad por el estudio de la sinfisis púbica, carilla auricular y acetábulo en el coxal. Gac. Int. Cienc. Forense