What Is Symphysis Pubis Dysfunction (SPD)?

Symphysis pubis dysfunction (SPD) during pregnancy is a condition in which a joint in the pelvis, the pubic symphysis joint, becomes more flexible because of a special hormone that’s released in your body to help prepare it for birth. As the joint moves, it can cause what feels like pelvic bone pain, which might affect your mobility.

Although SPD can be painful for you, the good news is that there are ways to ease the pelvic pain, and the pain or discomfort usually reduces or goes away completely after your baby is born.

Read on to learn more about the causes, symptoms, and treatment for symphysis pubis dysfunction.

What Is SPD and What Causes It?

Symphysis pubis dysfunction can happen during pregnancy when the joint called the pubic symphysis that connects the two halves of your pelvic bone moves too much.

The symphysis pubis joint is normally very stiff and doesn’t move much at all, but during pregnancy, a hormone called relaxin is released in your body to help relax the muscles and joints as your body prepares for giving birth. As part of this, the symphysis pubis joint is also loosened.

As the pelvic joint moves more than usual, and even potentially becomes uneven, you may experience pelvic pain. This pain is also sometimes called pelvic girdle pain.


Be sure to contact your healthcare provider if you have any pelvic pain during pregnancy, as the cause of your discomfort may not be SPD. Your healthcare provider can both diagnose SPD and rule out something else like an ectopic pregnancy, a urinary tract infection, or pelvic inflammatory disease, for example.

Symphysis Pubis Dysfunction Symptoms

These are some of the symptoms of symphysis pubis dysfunction:

  • Shooting pain in the lower pelvis area

  • Lower back pain that radiates into the abdomen, groin area, thigh, and/or leg

  • Pain when you make certain movements like putting weight on one leg or when spreading your legs apart

  • Pain with regular daily movements like walking, rolling over in bed, going up or down stairs, bending forward, or getting up from a seated position

  • Hearing or feeling a snapping, clicking, or grinding in the lower pelvis area

  • Pain during sex

  • Fatigue.

Keep in mind that the pain you might feel because of SPD can range from mild to severe.

The pain from SPD is often worsened by:

  • Lifting

  • Movements involving using your hips such as walking, bending forward, or getting up from a chair

  • Sexual intercourse

  • Sitting or standing for long periods.

How to Deal With Symphysis Pubis Dysfunction

If your healthcare provider diagnoses symphysis pubis dysfunction, there are several treatment methods she may recommend and home remedies you can try. On top of that, keep in mind that SPD pain usually goes away after you give birth.

Here are some SPD treatment methods and home remedies your provider might suggest to give you some relief:

  • Wearing a pelvic support belt

  • Resting

  • Applying ice and/or heat

  • Getting a massage

  • Using supportive pillows while you rest or sleep

  • Taking pain relief medications

  • Doing Kegel exercises to help strengthen your pelvic floor

  • Doing safe exercises that help strengthen your back and abdomen.

  • Using a wheelchair, crutches, or a walker, per your provider's recommendation, if the pelvic girdle pain is severe and effects your mobility

  • Using a TENS unit (transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation)

Although symphysis pubis dysfunction might be causing you some discomfort during your pregnancy, try to remember that the pain might be helped by the treatment recommended by your healthcare provider or, eventually, by the birth of your little one.

Yes, there’s quite an A to Z of body aches and pains that you might experience while pregnant but try to bear in mind that it will all have been worth it once you’re holding your baby in your arms.

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