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Q. I'm only nine weeks pregnant and have awful shooting pains in my crotch that come and go. Can you explain?
A. It sounds like the "stabbing vagina pains." I've experienced them too. It's quite embarrassing to have one of these pains suddenly strike in the presence of strangers. I once shook and gasped so loudly that everyone in line at the supermarket asked if I was okay. "Oh sure," I wanted to reply, "It's just a stabbing vagina pain."
I believe these pains are similar to the "stabbing uterine pains" and are caused by stretching and repositioning of tendons, ligaments and muscles. Your innards have to rearrange themselves to make room for the baby and sometimes this can cause abrupt pain.
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Q. I am 40 weeks pregnant and for the last three days I have been experiencing contractions and a sharp, stabbing, shooting pain in my vagina. The contractions are stopping and starting along with the pain that I just described in my vagina. What is this pain? Is it part of the first stage of labor? Can you give me a medical term for it?
-Anonymous, New York
A. It sounds like you are experiencing Braxton Hicks contractions, which are the dress rehearsal for real labor. The sharp, stabbing pain in your vagina could be the baby knocking on the door of your cervix. You probably feel this pain suddenly during a contraction because it squeezes the baby downward.
Braxton Hicks contractions can be very uncomfortable, and even scary or exciting, especially if you cannot tell the difference between them and the real contractions.
Here are a few ways to tell the dif:
- The Braxton Hicks contractions are not as consistent and timely as real contractions. The real ones are usually regular and increase in frequency and severity.
- Braxton Hicks contractions (usually) do not accompany any other signs of labor.
- Real contractions (usually) begin in the lower back and spread to the lower abdomen while hardening the entire uterus. A Braxton Hicks does not completely harden the uterus- and the fundus (usually) remains soft. To check if your fundus is soft, press down on the top of your uterus during the contraction. If it is not hard-as-a-rock, it is most likely a Braxton Hicks.
If you are at all concerned that you may be experiencing real labor, call your doctor to describe your symptoms.
Oh, one more thing-: the real labor pains are definitely more painful than Braxton Hicks. But you wouldn't know that, of course, unless you have already experienced real labor.
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Q. I am 32 weeks pregnant. For about a week now, I have noticed that whenever I try to get up either from standing or sitting, I have some pain in my vagina. It feels like there is a 10-pound bowling ball pressing on it from the inside. Sometimes I have to stand still for a couple of seconds because it hurts. My doctor recently told me that I'm carrying the baby high. What could this be?
A. Whether you are carrying your baby high or low, there is plenty of pressure on your cervix and bowels, which can be very uncomfortable at times. And, if the baby punches or kicks in the vicinity of your cervix or rectum, you may be surprised by a stab of pain.
I remember feeling a sharp pressure/pain deep within my vagina that most resembled the feeling one experiences during a pap smear. Ouch! There were also times when I felt like the baby was closer to coming out of my butt than my vagina. I actually felt baby hiccups in my rectum!
Q. I read the questions about vaginal swelling on your web site and talked to my doctor about my own swelling. The doctor did not examine me and basically said it was varicose veins. I can't tell you how much the vaginal swelling hurts. It also bleeds a little. It is limited to one side of my vagina. Do have any relief ideas? This is killing me! I am going to make that doctor look at this swelling when I go back. Why doesn't anyone talk about "cheeseburger crotch"?
A. You may have venal thrombosis, which can be much more uncomfortable than varicose veins. If a vein has squeezed out through the muscle wall and gotten pinched, it may balloon up with blood. This condition can be very painful and definitely needs medical attention. I had the same thing happen to me, but it was a thrombosed hemorrhoid. That was the worst pain I've ever experienced– worse than childbirth, believe it or not!
Do have your doctor examine you ASAP and be sure to mention how much pain you are in. In the meantime, keeping your feet and lower body elevated as much as possible may bring you some relief. You might also try a warm bath with Epsom salts.
As far as public discussion of a pregnant woman's cheeseburger crotch, I think lots of people are too embarrassed to admit to this and many other odd symptoms of pregnancy.
These sorts of details, sometimes quite gross or embarrassing in nature, are important for every pregnant woman to know (at least in my opinion!). For example: No one ever told me that I may feel baby hiccups in my rectum; that my nipples were going to crack apart into dozens of small sections that resembled dried desert mud; or that I would be entitled to a "pregnancy card" that would be handy when cutting a toilet line of 100 people.
During my first pregnancy, I was truly annoyed that I couldn't get this information from any book, doctor, or even my own sister. That's why I wrote the book, Frankly Pregnant; The Reality Journal of Pregnancy during my second pregnancy. If other people won't tell you about cheeseburger crotch, I will. I believe pregnant women need to know.
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Q. I am 32 weeks pregnant with my second child. Last week I noticed swelling on the right side of my vagina and up towards the hairline. It's sore in the morning when I wake up, but the discomfort goes away after I urinate. It's especially uncomfortable if my husband tries to touch me there. The pain will radiate from my crotch area to my lower right side. I saw my OB/GYN yesterday– she said it may be a hernia but she can't tell for sure so I should just keep an eye on it. What else could this be? I did not have any leukocytes in my urine yesterday so I don't think it's bladder related. Thanks!
A. The lump could be a number of things, such as uterine leiomyomas, inguinal hernia (like your doctor suggested), or venal thrombosis. (See the other half-swollen vagina questions for more details.) I've been told the best way to diagnose an inguinal hernia is through an ultrasound by a skilled technician.
Until your doctor has determined what it is and prescribes suitable treatment, you can also try keeping your legs and lower body elevated as much as possible to alleviate some pressure and pain. The weightlessness associated with swimming and baths may be helpful, too.
If it is a hernia, applying counter-pressure to the area can be helpful, as it's the sticking out of the guts that feels most uncomfortable. Wearing control-top panty hose and putting a washcloth or sock against the area for support may help.
Q. I have been having pain on the left side of my vagina. I looked today to see what was going on, and yes, I do have "cheeseburger crotch," but on top of that there is a very large ugly purple vein bulging out in my vaginal area. It definitely aches, but is not unbearably painful. Is this something I need to see my doctor about ASAP?
A. This half-swollen vagina thing seems to be a very common problem! The lump could be a number of things, such as uterine leiomyomas, inguinal hernia, venal thrombosis or simply nothing. (See the other half-swollen vagina questions for more details.) And, yes, I think you should consult your doctor, just in case.
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Q. I am 26 weeks pregnant and have been diagnosed with a painful inguinal hernia. Should I be able to have a normal vaginal (home) delivery?
A. I am no medical professional, but I don't imagine a home delivery would be a good idea. If the hernia were to rupture further as a result of labor, you may want to be in the hospital close to an operating room. I suggest discussing your options with an experienced OB/GYN, midwife and/or general surgeon.
It probably all depends on how advanced your hernia condition is. If the hernia is extensive, you may even require surgery before the delivery.
Q. My husband and I had sex a few nights ago, pretty rough, and now my right vaginal lip feels like there is a lump in it. It hurts, but my husband doesn't see anything except a little swelling. I am almost three months pregnant with my second baby and I haven't experienced this before. Could it be a popped blood vessel from the roughness of the sex, and if so, why did it take two to three days for me to feel anything?
A. Your rough sex may have aggravated an already existing condition, but probably didn't cause it. The lump could be a number of things, such as uterine leiomyomas, inguinal hernia, venal thrombosis or simply a bruise. (See the other half-swollen vagina for more details.) If it is a bruise, it may not have blossomed, as bruises tend to do, for a few days. If this continues to bother you or becomes worse, you should consult your doctor just in case.
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Q. I am 25 weeks pregnant with my first child. She is quite an active baby and lately she has been kicking me very low. In fact, it feels like she is trying to kick through my cervix and into my vagina. This causes rather odd pressure/vibration feelings through the entire birth canal and vagina. Is there any way she could dislodge my mucous plug or stimulate labor, or is this just normal? Thanks!
A. Yes, it's annoying and painful at times, but quite normal. Your baby is probably sitting upright and you are feeling plenty of movement down below from the legs and feet. When she kicks directly at your cervix or bowels, you may suddenly suck in your breath with surprise or pain.
During my second pregnancy, I remember feeling a sharp pressure/pain deep within my vagina that most resembled the feeling one gets during a pap smear. I knew from prior experience that it must be the baby pushing or punching at my cervix. There were other times when I felt like the baby might actually be closer to coming out of my butt than my vagina. One night, the baby had hiccups that I could actually feel in my rectum!
I don't think you need to worry about your baby dislodging your mucous plug or stimulating labor. Your cervix should be pretty tightly sealed. It's meant to endure the trials and tribulations of the baby mambo.
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Q. Is possible to have an allergic reaction to KY liquid? Since my pregnancy I am not as stimulated as I once was, either due to lack of sleep, breastfeeding or a body issue. After using KY the other day I am bleeding slightly and very irritated.
-Randi, South Carolina
A. It's very common to have trouble with vaginal dryness for up to a year after giving birth. KY jelly or liquid can provide an easy solution to your problem. You probably are not allergic to the liquid. The main components of KY are: chlorhexidine gluconate, glucono delta lactone, glycerin, hydroxyethylcellulose, methylparaben, purified water, and sodium hydroxide, all of which are typically hypo-allergenic. The bleeding and irritation could be from the friction of intercourse. Your vaginal walls could still be tender, sensitive and dry from childbirth. During intercourse you may need to use more than one application of KY to keep you sufficiently lubricated. If you find no amount of KY is easing your discomfort, you may have a yeast or bacterial infection and should visit your OB/GYN for treatment.
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