The symphysis pubis is a cartilaginous joint in the lower part of the abdomen, where the left and right pubic bones meet in the middle. During pregnancy, this joint softens and widens to prepare for childbirth, a process which can cause discomfort or pain, a condition known as symphysis pubis dysfunction (SPD). It plays a crucial role in allowing the pelvis to expand enough to allow the baby to pass through during delivery.

Key Takeaways

  1. Symphysis pubis is not exactly a term related to motherhood but in the context of pregnancy, it refers to the joint at the front of the pelvic girdle where the two halves of the pelvis meet. This joint, made of cartilage, can cause discomfort during pregnancy.
  2. The Symphysis pubis can be affected by a condition known as Symphysis Pubis Dysfunction (SPD) which is common during pregnancy. The condition occurs when the ligaments that keep the pelvic bone aligned become relaxed and stretchy during pregnancy, causing pain and discomfort.
  3. Treatment for Symphysis Pubis Dysfunction can include physiotherapy, use of a pelvic support belt, and pain management techniques. Some women may even need assistance with mobility through the use of crutches during the late stages of pregnancy.


The term “symphysis pubis” refers to the joint at the front of the pelvis where the two halves of the pelvis meet.

During pregnancy, this joint can become more flexible due to the hormone relaxin, allowing the pelvis to expand to accommodate the growing baby and prepare for childbirth.

This increased flexibility can sometimes cause discomfort or pain, a condition known as symphysis pubis dysfunction (SPD). Therefore, understanding the role and changes in the symphysis pubis during motherhood is crucial because it helps in managing discomfort associated with pregnancy and can lead to safer and more comfortable childbirth.


The Symphysis Pubis plays a crucial role in the process of motherhood. It is a vital component of the skeletal structure that provides flexibility and movement to the body, specifically for the female during childbirth. Located at the front of the pelvic girdle, right above the genitals, the symphysis pubis primarily comprises a disc of fibrocartilage sandwiched between thin layers of hyaline cartilage.

Its main purpose is to support and maintain the integrity of the pelvic bones while permitting a reasonable degree of movement. In a pregnancy context, the Symphysis Pubis gains more medical significance. As the body prepares itself for childbirth, hormonal changes occur, causing the ligaments in this area to become more flexible.

This results in a condition called Symphysis Pubis Dysfunction (SPD), characterized by instability and pain in the pelvic joint. Therefore, it allows the widening of the birth canal to facilitate the passage of the baby during delivery. Nevertheless, it is the resilience of the symphysis pubis that permits such an essential part of the birthing process to occur, showcasing its key role in motherhood.

Examples of Symphysis pubis

Pregnancy and Childbirth: The symphysis pubis plays a crucial role during pregnancy and childbirth. During pregnancy, the body releases a hormone called relaxin that allows the ligaments in the pelvic area to soften. As a result, the symphysis pubis, a firm, slightly movable joint, becomes more flexible to allow for the expanding uterus and later for the baby to pass through the birth canal. Some women might experience pain or discomfort around this area which is referred to as symphysis pubis dysfunction (SPD).

Postpartum Recovery: After childbirth, many women undergo a process of recovery where the symphysis pubis returns to its pre-pregnancy state. However, sometimes a woman may continue to have pain in the area of the symphysis pubis, also known as postpartum pelvic pain. In severe cases, this might require medical attention and treatment to help alleviate the discomfort.

Exercise: In the context of workouts and fitness, especially pre- and postnatal exercise, knowledge of the symphysis pubis is essential. Certain exercises such as deep squats, heavy lunges, or high impact movements can put excess stress on the symphysis pubis and pelvic floor muscles, potentially causing injury or discomfort. Knowing how to safely maintain and strengthen the muscles supporting the symphysis pubis can help in minimizing chances of any injury or discomfort, especially during and post-pregnancy.

Frequently Asked Questions about Symphysis Pubis

What is Symphysis pubis?

The symphysis pubis is a cartilaginous joint, meaning a joint made of cartilage, that sits between and connects the two sides of the pelvic bone.

What is Symphysis Pubis Dysfunction (SPD)?

Symphysis Pubis Dysfunction (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.

What are the symptoms of Symphysis Pubis Dysfunction (SPD)?

Signs and symptoms of SPD include shooting pain in the lower pelvis area, discomfort when walking or climbing the stairs, difficulties in carrying out daily activities due to pain.

What causes Symphysis Pubis Dysfunction (SPD)?

SPD is thought to be related to hormonal changes during pregnancy, which can cause ligaments to become more relaxed and stretchy. This can affect the stability of the pelvic joints and lead to pain and inflammation.

How is Symphysis Pubis Dysfunction (SPD) diagnosed?

SPD is usually diagnosed based on the symptoms and a physical examination by your doctor or physiotherapist. Further imaging tests such as an MRI or X-ray might be required in some cases.

How is Symphysis Pubis Dysfunction (SPD) treated?

SPD treatment aims to manage symptoms and may include physical therapy, use of pelvic support belts, pain relief medicine and, in rare cases, surgery might be an option.

Related Motherhood Terms

  • Pelvic Girdle
  • Pregnancy
  • Pubic Bone
  • Birth Canal
  • Antenatal Care

Sources for More Information

  • Mayo Clinic – A comprehensive guide to health information, including information on the symphysis pubis.
  • WebMD – A medical resource including an expansive array of information about various health conditions, symptoms, and treatments.
  • Healthline – A platform that provides health and wellness information, which may also go into detailed explanations about the symphysis pubis.
  • Medscape – Another useful medical reference source, offering the latest medical news and expert perspectives.