The pubic symphysis is a joint located between the left and right pubic bones near the front of the pelvis. This joint consists of a cartilaginous pad, allowing slight movement to facilitate childbirth. During pregnancy, certain hormones cause this joint to soften and become more flexible, preparing the body for labor.

Key Takeaways

  1. The Pubic Symphysis is a very important cartilaginous joint located at the front of the pelvic girdle where the two pubic bones meet. This joint allows very little movement, making it a sturdy connection between the left and right pelvic bones.
  2. During pregnancy and childbirth, the hormone called relaxin causes the ligaments around this joint to become loose and stretchable. This is intended to make it easier for the mother to give birth, as it allows the pelvic bones to slightly separate and give more space for the baby to pass through the birth canal.
  3. Some women can experience pain due to the loosening of the pubic symphysis. This condition, known as Symphysis Pubis Dysfunction (SPD), can cause discomfort during pregnancy and mobility issues. However, it is typically temporary and can be managed with physical therapy and pain relief measures.


The term “pubic symphysis” is significant in motherhood as it refers to a cartilaginous joint that exists between the two pubic bones in the pelvic region. During pregnancy, due to the influence of hormones such as relaxin, this joint softens and expands to allow for the enlarging uterus and to facilitate childbirth.

This flexibility of the pubic symphysis aids in making space for the baby to pass through the birth canal. However, this can sometimes lead to a condition called symphysis pubis dysfunction (SPD) or pelvic girdle pain (PGP), resulting in discomfort or pain in the pelvic area.

Therefore, understanding the role and function of the pubic symphysis is key in maternal healthcare.


The pubic symphysis is a critical component in the human skeletal structure, specifically in the pelvic girdle, and plays a pivotal role during childbirth. Primarily, it is a cartilaginous joint that allows very slight movements, the kind that aids in walking, running or swimming. Perhaps most significantly, the pubic symphysis helps in facilitating pregnant women with the birthing process.

It is designed to become slightly more flexible during pregnancy in order to accommodate the baby passing through the pelvis. During pregnancy, the body naturally produces a hormone named relaxin which causes the pubic symphysis and other pelvic joints to loosen slightly. This can make space for the baby to pass through the birth canal.

While the pubic symphysis is conventionally a very small joint, its capacity to stretch and its role in facilitating a process as significant as childbirth, make it a crucial part of the skeletal structure. Without this important joint, natural childbirth would be significantly more challenging, if not impossible. Despite the discomfort some women may experience due to the stretching or loosening of the pubic symphysis, its role in the process of human reproduction is invaluable.

Examples of Pubic symphysis

Pregnancy and Childbirth: During pregnancy, a hormone called relaxin is released that helps the pubic symphysis, the joint connecting two large pelvic bones, to loosen and allow for the expansion needed for childbirth. In this context, some women may feel pain or discomfort in this area known as symphysis pubis dysfunction (SPD).

Pelvic Girdle Pain (PGP): This is also a common condition in pregnancy that involves discomfort or pain in the joints that make up the pelvic girdle, including the pubic symphysis. It is thought to affect up to 1 in 5 pregnant women to varying degrees, with the pubic symphysis being one of the common sites of pain.

Postpartum Recovery: After childbirth, the pubic symphysis begins to tighten back up, but this process can take time. Some new mothers may still experience discomfort or instability in this area, affecting their mobility and comfort during activities like walking, climbing stairs, or even turning over in bed. In severe cases, physiotherapy or other treatment might be needed to help recover.

FAQs on Motherhood: Pubic Symphysis

Q1. What is Pubic Symphysis?

The pubic symphysis is the midline cartilaginous joint (secondary cartilaginous) uniting the superior rami of the left and right pubic bones. This is an important joint that bears much weight and plays a crucial role, especially during pregnancy.

Q2. How is Pubic Symphysis related to Motherhood?

During pregnancy, the body releases a hormone called relaxin which allows the ligaments in the pelvic area to relax, and the joints to become looser in preparation for the birth process. This, combined with the added weight and pressure from the growing uterus, can lead to instability in the pubic symphysis – sometimes causing a condition called Symphysis Pubis Dysfunction (SPD).

Q3. What is Symphysis Pubis Dysfunction (SPD)?

SPD is a condition that causes excessive movement of the pubic symphysis, either anterior or lateral, as well as associated pain, possibly because of a misalignment of the pelvis. It is a common condition during pregnancy and can make it difficult to get around, but there are treatments available.

Q4. How to manage pain from Symphysis Pubis Dysfunction (SPD)?

Management techniques for SPD during pregnancy include the use of pain relieving modalities, monitoring the mother’s sense of comfort during activities, physical therapies like exercises and stretches, using maternity support belts and in some cases, use of crutches or wheelchairs. It is important to talk to your healthcare provider about your symptoms and the best treatment options for you.

Related Motherhood Terms

  • Pelvic Girdle
  • Pregnancy
  • Childbirth
  • Symphysis Pubis Dysfunction (SPD)
  • Relaxin Hormones

Sources for More Information

  • Mayo Clinic – A recognized leader in patient care, research, and education in health. The site provides an extensive online medical library that includes information on the symptoms, causes, and treatment of numerous health conditions.
  • WebMD – A leading source of trustworthy health information in the United States. The site offers information on various health topics, which is written and reviewed by a team of physicians and medical experts.
  • Healthline – The site provides easy access to expert advice, community support, and comprehensive information about every health topic, all written in clear, jargon-free language.
  • Medical News Today – An online health resource providing news and information on many areas of health and medicine. The site is regularly updated with articles written by medical professionals and reviewed by experts.