Women's bodies change significantly during pregnancy. Because the growing baby is in the pelvic cavity and also has to pass through the pelvis during delivery, many of these changes are localized to the pelvis. Women experience a variety of sensations during pregnancy, which may include pelvic discomfort or burning.
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The meaning of burning pain in the pelvis during pregnancy depends on many different factors. Pain that becomes steadily worse with time may indicate an injury or something abnormal; intermittent pain can be quite normal. In their book, "What To Expect When You're Expecting," Heidi Murkoff and Sharon Mazel explain that one of the most common causes of burning or discomfort in the pelvis during pregnancy is round ligament pain, the normal stretching of the ligaments that support the uterus.
Depending upon when pelvic burning arises during pregnancy, the pain may have different causes. In the second and third trimesters, women begin to secrete the hormone relaxin, explains Dr. Raymond Poliakin in his book, "What You Didn't Think To Ask Your Obstetrician." This causes ligaments to loosen and can lead to a feeling of pelvic burning or shifting as the normally fused bones of the pelvic girdle separate from one another a bit. While occasionally uncomfortable, relaxin-related pain is normal.
Women experiencing pelvic burning that seems constant or worsens with time should consider the possibility of an infection. Dr. Miriam Stoppard, in her book "Conception, Pregnancy and Birth," notes that changing hormone levels make yeast infections and urinary tract infections relatively common during pregnancy. Women who think they might have an infection should visit their obstetrician to rule out other causes of burning and get advice on how to treat the condition and increase comfort.
Although it's not uncommon to worry that pelvic discomfort or burning during pregnancy is a sign that something is wrong, most pelvic pain is normal. Generally, Dr. Poliakin explains, normal pregnancy pains come and go, with changes in position exacerbating or relieving discomfort. Women who find their pain unchanged over time or with position may have something going on that's unrelated to the pregnancy and should see a doctor.
Pelvic pain that occurs just above the pubic bone is severe, and if it localizes to one side over time it can be a sign of a serious complication of pregnancy, warns Dr. Stoppard. Ectopic pregnancies cause such pain and occur when a fertilized egg mistakenly implants in the Fallopian tube instead of the uterus. As the egg develops, it fills the tube, causing severe pain. Left untreated, this can lead to tube rupture, significant bleeding and even death. Such pains should be reported to a doctor immediately.
- "What to Expect When You're Expecting"; Heidi Murkoff and Sharon Mazel; 2008
- "What You Didn't Think to Ask Your Obstetrician"; Raymond Poliakin, M.D.; 2007
- "Conception, Pregnancy and Birth"; Miriam Stoppard, M.D.; 2008