The pudendal nerve sends sensations from your genitals and anus to your brain. It also controls the sphincter muscles that help you pee and poop.
The pudendal nerve is a major nerve in your pelvic region. This nerve sends movement (motor) and sensation information from your genital area. The pudendal nerve runs through .your pelvic floor muscles that support organs and ends at your external genitalia.
The pudendal nerve is crucial for sensation and function in your pelvic region, including the genitals and anus. This nerve is part of your peripheral nervous system. Peripheral nerves send signals from your central nervous system (brain and spine) to your limbs and certain organs.
The pudendal nerve’s motor function controls the movement of your:
The pudendal nerve also provides sensory information about touch, pleasure, pain and temperature to your:
You have a pudendal nerve for each side of your body (left and right). The pudendal nerve arises from the sacral plexus in the very lowest part of your spine. The sacral plexus is a bundle of nerves located on the back of your pelvis.
This sacral plexus is a complex network of nerves. These nerves give and receive feedback on movement and sensation to your thighs, lower legs, feet and part of your pelvis.
The pudendal nerve:
After entering the pudendal canal, the pudendal nerve branches into:
Pressure on your pudendal nerve can cause pain or neuropathy (nerve damage).
Pudendal nerve entrapment syndrome is a rare type of nerve compression syndrome. With this condition, an injury or another problem puts pressure on your pudendal nerve. It causes pudendal neuralgia (chronic stabbing pain). This syndrome affects about 1 in 100,000 people.
Causes of pudendal nerve damage include:
Healthcare providers sometimes use pudendal nerve blocks to provide pain relief during childbirth. Your provider may suggest the nerve block if you can’t have or don’t want an epidural (spinal anesthesia), or need extra pain relief during your repair.
A pudendal nerve block takes effect quickly. It reduces pain during the second (pushing) stage of childbirth or before an episiotomy. But it doesn’t relieve the pain from contractions.
These steps can keep your nervous system healthy:
You should call your healthcare provider if you experience:
A note from Cleveland Clinic
The pudendal nerve provides most of the movement and sensations for your pelvic region, including your external genitals and anus. It plays a critical role in your ability to regulate when you pee and poop. Damage to the pudendal nerve can lead to pain and affect your ability to have or enjoy sex. Pressure on the nerve causes pudendal nerve entrapment syndrome. This condition causes severe, chronic pain (pudendal neuralgia) that can be disabling.
Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 09/14/2021.
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