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"What causes sharp stomach pains during pregnancy?"

ZocdocAnswersWhat causes sharp stomach pains during pregnancy?

Question

I'm 29 and I'm 4 months pregnant, and I've been having very sharp stomach pains. They come and go. This is really alarming, but I know pregnancy comes with a lot of random complications, and they're not all serious. Should I see a doctor, or am I overreacting?

Answer

Questions about pregnancy are best answered by an obstetrician-gynecologist (OB/GYN). Abdominal pain during pregnancy should always be evaluated by a physician because there can be both harmless and very dangerous causes of these kinds of symptoms. First, abdominal pain can be caused by the pregnancy itself. An ectopic pregnancy--where the embryo implants outside of the uterus--or problems with the placenta can cause abdominal pain. Abdominal cramps with spotting can also be a sign of impending miscarriage. Next, pregnancy itself can make women more susceptible to problems with the urinary tract. A bladder or kidney infection or even kidney stones can occur during pregnancy and cause sharp abdominal pain. Just like any other person, pregnant women can also develop appendicitis, a stomach virus, pancreatitis, or gallstones. Finally, there are several non-worrisome things that can cause abdominal pain in a pregnant woman. These possibilities include gas, bloating, constipation, and round ligament pain. The round ligament is part of the intrabdominal support for the growing uterus. As it stretches, a woman may feel a dull ache on one or both sides of the lower abdomen or groin or sometimes even a sharp, stabbing pain that comes and goes. Round ligament pain usually starts in the second trimester and can be provoked with position changes or a lot of physical activity. With any new symptoms or changes in one's health during pregnancy, it is always best to seek evaluation from a physician who can take a thorough history and perform a physical exam.

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