In her thesis, obstetrician Berith Karlsson Tingåker has examined the source of pain during childbirth and how uterine sensitivity to pain changes during pregnancy. Her results show that labour pains mainly derive from the cervix, where the number of pain-related nerve fibres and receptors is much greater than in the uterus at full-term pregnancy.

Her thesis also shows that uterine pain sensitivity differs markedly between pregnant and non-pregnant women. In the latter, the entire uterus is pain-sensitive, while in the former, the pain-sensitive nerve fibres disappear almost completely from the main body of the uterus, but remain in the cervix.

Spinal anaesthesia is currently the most effective way of providing pain relief. However, it is a resource-demanding method and has other drawbacks that limit its practicability.

“The results create new opportunities for developing simpler and more effective methods of pain relief, with the focus on the cervix,” says Berith Karlsson Tingåker. “Women in Sweden and around the world, many of whom have no access to pain relief, are literally crying out for them.”

Thesis: Changes in human uterine innervation in term pregnancy and labor. Occurrence and roles of neurotrophins and TRPV1, Berith Karlsson Tingåker, The Department of Woman and Child Health, Karolinska Institutet.

For more information, please contact:

Dr Berith Karlsson Tingåker
Tel: +46 (0)70 778 36 54
Email: Berith.Tingaker@ki.se

Press Officer Katarina Sternudd
Tel: +46 (0)8 524 838 95 or +46 (0)70 224 38 95
Email: Katarina.sternudd@ki.se

Karolinska Institutet is one of the leading medical universities in Europe. Through research, education and information, Karolinska Institutet contributes to improving human health. Each year, the Nobel Assembly at Karolinska Institutet awards the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine. For more information, visit ki.se