09:42pm Sunday 05 April 2020

Smoking when pregnant causes pelvic pain

Pelvic pain can be common during pregnancy, occurring usually in the second trimester.  This is different to chronic pelvic pain which is a medical problem that can occur at any time in a women’s life, usually linked to other gynaecological conditions such as endometriosis, pelvic inflammatory disease and depression.  When it happens during pregnancy, in most women, the pain disappears after childbirth while in others, it may become chronic.     

Danish researchers looked at 4,994 subjects (2,302 cases, 2,692 controls) in the Danish National Birth Cohort in a nested case-control study from 2000 – 2001.  The women were interviewed twice before pregnancy and twice after childbirth. They were asked about their smoking patterns during pregnancy and the level of pain experienced while performing daily activities such as turning over while in bed, getting up from a seated position and climbing up stairs; and then assessed as having had mild (pain felt while carrying out one daily function) or severe (pain in two daily functions or more) pain.  

Researchers found that women who smoked were more likely to have pregnancy-related pelvic pain and the women who smoked the most cigarettes were most likely to have pelvic pain. This is a new finding and researchers propose that it may be another adverse health consequence of smoking in pregnancy. They suggest that reduced blood flow to tissue surrounding the pelvic girdle joints might help account for the pain felt by women who smoked.   

Mr Michael Marsh, consultant obstetrician and gynaecologist and BJOG deputy editor-in-chief, said “This new research adds to the growing body of evidence which shows the negative impact of smoking during pregnancy.  Previous research has clearly shown the adverse effects of maternal smoking on fetal development, but this work suggests that it can also lead to physical pain for the mother during pregnancy.

“This study adds further weight to the advice to all pregnant women – give up smoking.”



BJOG: An International Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology is owned by the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG) but is editorially independent and published monthly by Wiley-Blackwell. The journal features original, peer-reviewed, high-quality medical research in all areas of obstetrics and gynaecology worldwide. Please quote ‘BJOG‘ or ‘BJOG: An International Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology’ when referring to the journal and include the website: www.bjog.org as a hidden link online.
To speak to Mr Michael Marsh, please call 020 7772 6446.


Biering K, Aagaard Nohr E, Olsen J, Hjollund N, Nybo Andersen A-M, Juhl M. Smoking and pregnancy-related pelvic pain.BJOG 2010; DOI: 10.1111/j.1471-0528.2010.02591.x.

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