Pregnant: pain in the groin

Pregnant and pain in the groin. Groin pain is common during pregnancy, especially towards the end. However, it can occur much earlier, sometimes around the 12th week. Pelvic pain and pelvic instability can be a cause, but so can bladder infection. There are also more causes that we will discuss below. When should you alert the doctor or midwife and when are pain complaints associated with pregnancy?

Where is the groin?

The groin is located between the lower abdomen and the upper leg. It is the skin fold at the level of the pelvis/pubic bone. You could also call it the top of the leg. The groin is on both the right and left, so everyone has two groins. There are lymph nodes in the groin that can sometimes be clearly felt, especially when they are swollen due to illness. Subcutaneous lumps/bumps can then be felt.

Pregnant and pain in the groin

A frequently heard complaint: pregnant and pain in the groin. This can occur on the left, right or on both sides. The pain can be mild or so severe that it is barely possible to walk. It may feel as if you have done the split (gymnastics exercise) without having been trained for it. The pain can also occur when going to sleep in a side-lying position. Many women then pull up a leg, causing pain in the groin. Sitting can also worsen the pain. In addition, the groin may feel crampy or numb. Sometimes the strength is temporarily lost, making it difficult to use the leg.

Pelvic instability causes pain in the groin

During pregnancy people often talk about pelvic instability. Under the influence of hormones, the connections between the pelvic bones become more flexible. This is necessary to make the birth possible. This can cause pelvic pain. Only when the connections relax too much and the pelvis becomes unstable do we speak of pelvic instability. True pelvic instability occurs in 5 percent of all pregnant women. All other complaints are attributed to pelvic pain. Pelvic pain and pelvic instability are therefore not the same. Pelvic instability can be recognized by pain in the pubic bones/pubic bone, pain in the groin, pain in the lower back at the level of the sacrum, the pain can radiate to one or both buttocks. In the beginning, the pain only occurs when walking or standing, later also when sitting and even lying down. Turning over in bed can be very painful. The pelvis also feel very tired. This is caused by the muscles that have to exert extra force to keep the pelvis somewhat stable. Pelvic instability during pregnancy can be treated by a physiotherapist.

Pelvic pain

Pain in the groin can originate from the pelvis with pelvic pain. As has already been described in the case of pelvic instability, the cause can be found in the connections between the pelvic bones becoming more flexible. Although the pain complaints are annoying, it is not alarming. Only when the pain becomes unbearable and/or incontinence develops is it better to discuss this with the midwife or physiotherapist. There is then a chance that pelvic pain has turned into pelvic instability.

Descending the baby

The baby’s descent occurs around the 30th week of pregnancy, sometimes later. This is necessary to make the delivery go more smoothly. In addition, the chance that the baby will turn to a breech position is reduced. Descending can cause pain that can be felt in the groin, vagina and pubic bone. Pain in the lower abdomen may also occur. Some women get a nagging and drooping feeling and there may even be a feeling that the baby is already half out of place. Although the complaints are annoying, it is normal and there is no reason to worry. If you continue to worry or if the symptoms increase, discuss this with your midwife/doctor.


Women are more susceptible to a bladder infection than men. This has to do with the shorter urethra. Pregnant women are even more susceptible to a bladder infection. Resistance is simply reduced during pregnancy. With a bladder infection, the bladder itself may feel painful during urination. The feeling is often described as a burning sensation. Pain may also radiate to the back or groin. You often have to urinate small amounts and more often than normal. A bladder infection can be treated easily and safely with a course of antibiotics.

Non-pregnancy related causes

Groin pain is not always linked to pregnancy. Sometimes groin pain occurs in pregnant women without pregnancy being the cause. Other causes of groin pain are:

  • Groin injury due to an incorrect movement or overload
  • Blockages (more common during pregnancy)
  • Kidney stones
  • Inguinal hernia; a lump is visible or palpable in the groin
  • Gaucher’s disease
  • Ankylosing spondylitis, a rheumatic disease

If complaints persist or pain worsens, it is advisable to visit your GP. This can carry out a number of tests to make a diagnosis. Try to describe the complaints as clearly as possible and also when they occur (moving, lying down, during the day or at night).

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