Pain in early pregnancy is very common and something that causes a lot of us to worry. So what causes it and when does it mean something is wrong?

Crampy discomfort low down in the middle of the tummy that comes and goes is very common. If it is mild, there is no bleeding with it, and the baby’s heartbeat is happily ticking away then it’s not worrying.

Its normal to need to pee more frequently but if you have cloudy urine or any burning or feel feverish it’s important to get checked promptly for a bladder infection (cystitis). Your GP surgery can test your urine by dipping an analysis stick into it, and send it to the lab for further tests if needed.

Pain over to one side and low down in the tummy is often caused by a small corpus luteum cyst. This is a normal thing to have. Before you ovulate the dominant egg grows inside a fluid filled sac on the ovary called a follicle. This gets up to 25-30mm in size and then ruptures to release the egg at ovulation. What is left behind often bleeds slightly and becomes the corpus luteum – the medical term for a small yellowish area on the ovary.

This corpus luteum is very important as is makes hormones to maintain the pregnancy until the placenta has formed enough to take over. We commonly see that it has formed a little cyst in women who report discomfort on one side. It resolves as the pregnancy advances.

Constipation is another common cause, as the progesterone levels start to climb which relaxes muscles in the bowel to make it more lazy!

Occasionally pain on one side can mean an ectopic pregnancy (pregnancy inside the Fallopian tube). So significant pain that is moderate or severe means you need urgent medical attention, especially if it’s accompanied by feeling faint or shoulder tip pain. Thankfully this is uncommon! You may be more at risk of an ectopic pregnancy if you’ve had chlamydia in the past, surgery to your tummy or are a smoker. The location of your pregnancy inside the womb can be confirmed on scan from about 5 weeks onwards, when the first sonographically visible structure comes into view – the yolk sac.


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