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Written by Feba Maryann

For many soon-to-mamas, body aches and cramps almost become a part of their every-day lives. In a recent survey, up to 60 percent of mums suffer pain in their symphysis pubis during their pregnancy.  

This condition is debilitating and can affect a women’s quality of life, which could result in depression and other complications. Keep reading to know more about the symptoms, causes and treatment options for symphysis pubis dysfunction (SPD) 

What is SPD? 

Your symphysis pubis is the joint where your pubic bones meet in the front of your pelvis whose connection is strengthened by secure network of ligaments. Medically speaking, the pubis symphysis is the cartilaginous joint that is found between both sides of the pubic bone. During pregnancy, the release of a hormone called relaxin rises. This hormone softens your ligaments to make it easier for your baby to pass through your pelvis. However, this also means that your symphysis pubis becomes stretchy and soft which results less stable which results in SPD. It could feel like the left and right side of your pubic bone keep rubbing against each other. This could result into serious complications if ignored. 

Pelvic girdle pain is the generic medical term used for any pelvic pain experienced by pregnant mums. Symphysis pubis dysfunction comes under the pelvic girdle pain spectrum. 

What Are The Symptoms? 

Pubic and groin pain are the most common symptoms of SPD. However, you could also suffer the following conditions: 

  • Pain in your back, hips or the area between your legs 
  • It may aggravate when you climb the stairs or move around. 
  • Using the washroom at night can be extremely painful, which eventually prevents you from getting a good night’s sleep 
  • Grinding/ noise in your pubic area 

Treatment Options 

Women who stay fit and maintain a healthy lifestyle before pregnancy are less prone to SPD. However, if you end up being diagnosed with SPD, here are a few tips to help you manage the symptoms: 

  • Do exercises that target on your core and glute muscles. This helps you strengthen your muscles which helps reduce the pain. 
  • Medicines like Acetaminophen help alleviate the pain. Make sure that the pills you take are pregnancy safe. 
  • Using walkers, crutches or pelvic support belts to reduce muscle strain 
  • Acupuncture and physiotherapy 
  • External heat or massage 
  • Avoid strenuous activities 
  • Sleep with a pillow between your knees, this lowers the risk of stillbirth. 
  • Get plenty of rest, avoid lifting or pushing heavy objects 

You can also connect with self-help groups that consist of women who have experienced similar conditions. It helps you to obtain practical solutions that you encounter every day. Make sure you include your SPD symptoms in your birth plan to avoid complications. 


A normal vaginal delivery is recommended for women with SPD. Induced labour is normally used when women suffer extreme pain or experience limited mobility due to their condition. However, the risks outweigh the benefits. 

You should be in a comfortable labour position and limit yourself from widening your legs. One-to-one support and birthing pools help with pain management which eliminate the need for an epidural. 

Recovery Management And Postpartum Rehabilitation 

The recovery period is within a few weeks to months of birth. The pain might worsen if you ignored the condition throughout your pregnancy, as your muscles weren’t strengthened. Talk to your doctor and take physical therapy sessions to strengthen your core and glute muscles. Some women might also suffer abdominal separation or organ prolapse. Multiple births, birthing positions or a fast birth can increase the risk of experiencing postpartum pelvic pain. 

You might have to face shooting pains every month before your period. This is due to the rise in hormones similar to relaxin in your body. Having SPD in one pregnancy increases your chances of it during your next pregnancy. However, it might not be as bad if it is managed well. Maintaining a healthy weight to lower the chances of experiencing pelvic pain during your pregnancy. 

If treated with due care, you will be able to recover within six months. 

If you suffer from SPD, you will need special care to address your needs. Being in continuous physical pain can take a toll on you emotionally. You might also require longer hospital stays. Do not hesitate from asking for help from your friends, family and partner. Speak to your midwife or doctor if you feel like it’s too much to handle and discuss alternative therapy options.

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