Hilary Duff Says 'Lightning Crotch' Feels Like 'Stabbing Pains In My Vagina'

by Erica Gerald Mason
Michael Kovac/Getty Images for Adopt Together

No one likes to talk about having an ouchy vag during pregnancy, but Hilary Duff has brought the term ‘lightning crotch’ to the public

Somewhere between the baby showers, glam photo shoots, and decorating the nursery, there’s the parts of pregnancy no one wants to talk about. The morning sickness, the peeing (oh, dear lord, the peeing), and the discomfort. In a new interview, Hilary Duff just opened up about her experience with “lightning crotch” which is a casual term for a very real thing, and painful thing, pregnant people can experience.

“I texted my midwife the other day and I was like, ‘What’s up with the stabbing pains in my vagina? I’m not feeling this,'” Duff told Brooke Baldwin, who was acting as guest host for The Ellen Show, about the awful feelings she’s experiencing during her third pregnancy.

“It feels awful, like you’re being struck by lightning! And [my midwife] just wrote back and she was like, ‘Oh, lightning crotch,’ like it was no big thing. And I was like, ‘This is quite traumatic.'”

Duff described lightning crotch as “It’ll just strike and all of a sudden and you’re, like, doubled over and then it’s gone.”

Other people have chimed in about their own lightning crotch moments. “My son dropped today and wtf I didn’t know lightning crotch was a thing. Jeeezuz,” one Twitter user wrote.

Okay but what is lightning crotch?

According to a medically reviewed article on Greatist, any sharp pain in your vagina can be considered lightning crotch. Officially called symphysis pubis dysfunction, lightning crotch is a medical condition defined by sharp, shooting pains in the crotch or groin region, which mostly occurs during pregnancy. Not every pregnant women will feel it, and a woman can experience lightning crotch during one pregnancy but not necessarily feel it during the next pregnancy.

What causes lightning crotch?

Getting up from a seated position, laughing, coughing or even sneezing can bring the pain, says Greatist.

Lightning crotch is caused by changes to the pubic region — a joint that rests between the left and right public bones. The hormone relaxin, which is created during pregnancy, causes the pubic symphysis to detach in preparation for childbirth, and it’s this separation that causes the pain.

Other reasons for lightning crotch include magnesium deficiency, which can cause muscle spasms, endometriosis, or a UTI.

“Told OB I was experiencing lightning crotch and he made a face,” one Twitter user wrote. “After coming back in with his nurse, he said ‘we just googled that, and I was surprised that’s a thing. that’s not going to go away until after you deliver..etc’.”

Is lightning crotch a sign of labor or that something is wrong?

Lightning crotch may be painful, but it’s not dangerous — as long as the pain remains fleeting. If lightning crotch is followed by lower back pain, nausea, consistent contractions, and blood-tinged vaginal discharge, it’s important to get to the hospital as soon as you can, as these are symptoms of labor.

How to ease or prevent lightning crotch?

Greatist recommends changing position or stretching. Another tip is to try flexing or bending your hips before you sneeze, cough, or laugh as this can help minimize how much your ligaments pull. A warm bath or massage can also help alleviate muscle strain. Using a heating pad or taking an over-the-counter pain reliever or magnesium supplement can help as well.

Thanks to Hilary for giving a voice to crotches everywhere, lightning and otherwise.