The most likely cause of round ligament pain is pregnancy. Anatomically, the round ligament supports the uterus and stretching of the ligament leads to pain. Other causes of round ligament pain include endometriosis and involuntary spasms.
During pregnancy, the round ligament is stretched and women may experience pain. As the uterus grows to support the growing fetus, the round ligament must stretch to accommodate and support it. In addition to the growing size of the fetus placing a strain on the round ligament, the weight of the fetus can also lead to stress on the round ligament and result in pain.
Most commonly the pain is situated on the right side of the abdomen during pregnancy. This is largely due to the fact that the uterus is naturally situated towards the right side of a woman’s body. Some may confuse this as a bout of appendicitis, when in fact it is due to the round ligament pulling on nerves related to the female reproductive organs and system. Pain from a round ligament is most common on the right side, but women can experience it on both sides of the body during pregnancy.
Pregnant women typically begin to experience round ligament pain during the second trimester of pregnancy. At this time, the uterus is undergoing expansion at an accelerated rate to accommodate the fast growing fetus. Pregnant women may also begin to notice pain when they get up or move quickly.
Another possible cause of pain associated with this ligament is the enlargement of blood vessels in the ligament during pregnancy. These enlarged blood vessels can cause pain and swelling. Eventually, the round ligament blood vessels drain into the veins of the pelvis during pregnancy.
Other conditions can also cause round ligament pain. This includes conditions in women who are not pregnant, such as endometriosis. Other possible causes include spasms and cramping. Ligament pain can also be brought on by exercise.
The pain typically only lasts for a short time. Most commonly, rest will alleviate ligament pain associated with movement, especially later on in pregnancy. A physician may also suggest some stretching exercises to help alleviate pain.
Severe abdominal pain should be discussed with a physician, especially during pregnancy. Other conditions, such as appendicitis, may be responsible for the pain. A physician should also be consulted if pain persists for longer than a few minutes or is accompanied by bleeding or vomiting.