Pubis: Anatomy, Function, and Treatment (2022)

The pubis, also referred to as the pubic bone, is one of the three main bones that make up the pelvis. Also known as the pelvic girdle, the pelvis is a structure located between the abdomen and thighs.

The pubis is the most forward-facing bone of the pelvic bones. Together with the ilium and ischium, the pubis helps form the deep, cup-shaped structure of the pelvic girdle.

The main function of the pubis is to protect the urinary organs (like the bladder and prostate) as well as the internal sex organs. The pubis differs slightly in both form and function in those born female versus those born male.

Pubis: Anatomy, Function, and Treatment (1)

This article describes the anatomy and function of the pubis, including the differences between the sexes. It also outlines some of the conditions that can affect the pubis and what is involved in a treatment and rehabilitation plan.

Anatomy of the Pubis

The pubis is located at the front of the body just below the abdomen. The pubis supports and protects the urinary and sexual organs of both sexes, including the bladder, uterus (womb), ovaries, prostate gland, and testes (testicles).

There are two halves to the pubis. Each one is made up of three sections:

  • Pubic body: This is the largest portion of the pubis. The body forms the wide, strong, middle, and flat part of the pubic bone.
  • Superior pubic ramus: This is one of two sections of bone that branch off the pubic body. The superior pubic ramus is the upper section that connects to both the wing-shaped ilium and the upper portion of the L-shaped ischium.
  • Inferior pubic ramus: This is the lower section of bone that branches off the public body. The inferior pubic ramus connects to the lower portion of the L-shaped ischium.

The right and left half of the pubis are connected by a piece of cartilage called the pubic symphysis. The pubic symphysis is semi-rigid and able to move by around 2 millimeters in most adults.

Variations in Structure and Function

The general structure of the pelvis as a whole differs depending on one's sex. The female pelvis is thinner and lighter, while the male pelvis is thicker and denser to support a heavier body build. The female pelvis is also wide and shallow compared to the male pelvis, which is more heart-shaped and narrow.

The variations in the structure of the pelvis are related to differences in the urinary and sexual organs of each sex. They also vary due to certain functions of the body.

With respect to the pubis, one of the main differences is seen in the pubic symphysis. In males, the pubic symphysis is where the suspensory ligament of the penis is attached to the pelvis. In females, the pubic symphysis, situated close to the clitoris, can expand to enable childbirth.

There are anatomical variations in the structure of the pelvis among females, some of which are more accommodating to childbirth than others. The variations may be classified as:

  • Gynecoid: This is the most common type of pelvis in females. It is more round, shallow, and open and is highly accommodating to childbirth.
  • Android: This type bears a closer resemblance to the male pelvis. It may be less accommodating to vaginal childbirth and more accommodating to a Cesarian section.
  • Anthropoid: This type of pelvis is narrow and deep with a shape similar to that of an egg. Vaginal birth is possible, but it may take longer than someone with a gynecoid pelvis.
  • Platypelloid: Also known as a flat pelvis, this is the least common type overall. It is wide but shallow, making it difficult for a baby to pass through the birth canal. Many females with a platypelloid pelvis require a C-section.

Functions of the Pubis

The main function of the pubis is to protect the urinary organ and internal sex organs. The pubis also joins the rear bones of the pelvic girdle, providing a stable junction between the trunk and the legs.

Together, the bones of the pelvic serve three major purposes:

(Video) Pelvis Hip Bones Anatomy (Os Coxae, Pelvic Girdle) - Ilium, Ischium, Pubis

  • To support and balance the trunk
  • To enable movement by transferring body weight to the lower limbs
  • To facilitate childbirth

The pubis itself also provides the attachment point for certain ligaments (tissue that connect bone to bone) and tendons (tissue that connects muscle to bone). This includes:

  • The inguinal falx, tendons that connect the muscles of the abdomen to those of the pelvis
  • The suspensory ligament, which attaches the base of the penis to the pelvis

In addition, the pubic symphysis has slight motion and functions as a shock absorber when walking or jumping.

Conditions Affecting the Pubis

There are several conditions that can affect the pubis, each of which requires a different treatment and rehabilitation plan.

Pelvic Fractures

As with any bone, the pubic bone can be fractured. When this occurs, a person cannot walk, sit, or move well without pain.Pelvic fractures are most often caused by a high-impact event like a car accident or falling from a significant height.

When the pubis is fractured, the bone must be immobilized to allow for complete healing. Because the pubic bone is difficult to immobilize, complete bed rest for several weeks is required. This includes the avoidance of unnecessary movements of the upper body and lower limbs.

Over-the-counter nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) like Aleve (naproxen) or Advil (ibuprofen) may be prescribed to relieve pain and inflammation. Some people may require stronger prescription opioid drugs.

After significant healing has occurred, crutches or other assistive devices will be used as part of the rehabilitation process. A physical therapist will often be recruited to direct the rehabilitation plan.

The plan will often involve manual (hands-on) therapy to improve muscle flexibility and increase mobility in the hips, spine, and pelvis.Exercises involving the hips and core muscles are often done following a pelvic fracture.

Osteitis Pubis

The pubis can also be affected by a condition called osteitis pubis. This is an inflammation of the pubic symphysis and other tissues attached to the pubis.

Osteitis pubis is mainly caused by repetitive stress. It tends to affect athletes and other people who are very physically active, including soccer players and long-distance runners. It can also occur after childbirth or pelvic surgery

Symptoms of osteitis pubis include pain in the groin or lower abdomen. There may also be pain and tenderness when pressure is applied to the pubic bone. The condition can be easily mistaken for menstrual cramps or a pulled muscle.

Osteitis pubis is treated with rest. In addition to over-the-counter NSAIDs, applying ice several times daily for 10 to 15 minutes can help ease the inflammation and pain.

The rehabilitation of osteitis pubis mainly involves exercises to strengthen the muscles supporting the pubis. These include the core muscle training of the traverse abdominal muscles (which wrap horizontally across the belly like a belt) and abductor muscle exercises that target the inner thighs.

Summary

The pubis is one of three major bones that make up the pelvis. It connects the upper wing-shaped bone (called the ilium) to the lower L-shape bone (called the ischium) to form the pelvic girdle.

The primary function of the pubis is to support and protect the urinary and internal sexual organs. There is a right and left pubic bone separated by a piece of cartilage called the pubic symphysis.

(Video) Pubis: Superior & Inferior Pubis – Anatomy | Lecturio

The pubis is vulnerable to fractures, usually caused by high-impact injuries. Athletes may also develop a condition called osteitis pubis in which the pubic bone becomes inflamed due to repetitive stress. Both conditions are treated with rest and often benefit from rehabilitation with a physical therapist.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Where is the pubic bone?

    The pubic bone is the forward-facing bone in the center of the pelvis. Also known as the pubis, this bone forms the bottom of the pelvic girdle. Externally, you can feel your pubic bone at the bottom of the torso between your legs.

  • What causes pain near the pubic bone?

    Pain near the pubic bone could be related to your digestive, reproductive, or urinary systems or may be due to connective tissue on the pelvic floor. Pain in the pubic area can be due to constipation, a urinary tract infection, or a sexually transmitted infection.

    A painful pubic bone at the end of pregnancy or after childbirth can be from osteitis pubis. Caused by repetitive stress in the groin area, it is also common in soccer players and long-distance runners.

  • What is behind the female pubic bone?

    (Video) The Pubis, Pubis Landmarks, and Pubic Symphysis

    In women, the bladder is directly behind the pubic bone. Behind the bladder are the uterus, Fallopian tubes, ovaries, and upper vagina. The rectum is in the back of the pelvis.

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2 Sources

Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.

  1. Wobser AM, Wobser RW. Anatomy, abdomen and pelvis, bones (ilium, ischium, and pubis). In: StatPearls.

  2. Yax J, Cheng D. Osteomyelitis pubis: a rare and elusive diagnosis.West J Emerg Med. 2014;15(7):880–882. doi:10.5811/westjem.2014.8.13401

Additional Reading

(Video) Symphysis Pubis Dysfunction (Pelvic Pearls- Dr. Riva Preil, NYC)

FAQs

What is the function of the pubis? ›

Function. The main function of the pubis is to protect the intestines, bladder, and internal sex organs. The pubis joins the rear bones of the pelvic girdle, holding them in place and allowing for a circular structure to join the upper half of the body with the lower half of the body.

What is the function of the pubic bone in females? ›

The main function of the pubis is to protect the urinary organs (like the bladder and prostate) as well as the internal sex organs. The pubis differs slightly in both form and function in those born female versus those born male.

What is the treatment for pubic symphysis? ›

Placing an ice pack on your pelvic area. Sleeping with a pillow between your legs. Wearing a pregnancy belt (pelvic support belt). Squeezing your legs together when you're getting out of your car.

What is the pubis in anatomy? ›

The pubic symphysis is a joint sandwiched between your left pelvic bone and your right pelvic bone. It helps your pelvis absorb some of the weight from your upper body before it travels to your lower body. It also helps separate your pelvic bones to prepare for vaginal childbirth.

What type of bone is pubis? ›

It is usually divided into two separate anatomic regions: the pelvic girdle and pelvic spine. The pelvic girdle, also known as the hip bone, is composed of three fused bones: the ilium, ischium and the pubic bone.
...
Bony pelvis.
BonesHip bone (ilium, ischium, pubis), sacrum
Types of pelvisGynaecoid android, anthropoid, platypelloid
2 more rows

Where is pubis located? ›

Pubis: This is at the front of the hip bone closest to the genitals. There is a joint between the two pubes bones called the pubic symphasis.

What is the pubic hair area called? ›

It becomes covered with hair at puberty. The vulva has 2 folds of skin. The outer folds are called the labia majora. The inner folds are called the labia minora.

What muscles are on pubic bone? ›

They include the adductor longus, adductor brevis, adductor magnus, gracilis, pectineus, and obturator externus muscles. The adductor longus, brevis, and magnus muscles originate on the pubic bone and insert on the linea aspera of the femur.

What causes symphysis pubis pain? ›

Pubic symphysis joint pain is commonly provoked by moving the legs apart, such as getting in and out of a car, climbing out of bed, rolling in bed, or going up and down stairs. Standing up from prolonged sitting, particularly on a soft couch, is another known trigger.

What is the function of pubic bone in male reproductive system? ›

The pubic symphysis is the joint that connects the left and right hip bone. The pelvic girdle is a ring of bones that works as a basin for several organs, including those in the digestive and reproductive systems. It acts as a connection point to the upper and lower body.

What's the meaning of pubic? ›

Definition of pubic

: of, relating to, or situated in or near the region of the pubes or the pubis.

Can you break your pubic bone? ›

About pelvic fractures

Fractures of the pelvis are uncommon and range widely from mild (if the minor ring is broken) to severe (if the major ring is broken). Pelvic rings often break in more than one place. A mild fracture (such as may happen from the impact of jogging) may heal in several weeks without surgery.

What are the 3 pelvic bones? ›

The pelvis consists of paired hipbones, connected in front at the pubic symphysis and behind by the sacrum; each is made up of three bones—the blade-shaped ilium, above and to either side, which accounts for the width of the hips; the ischium, behind and below, on which the weight falls in sitting; and the pubis, in ...

Is the pubis an irregular bone? ›

Irregular Bones Have Complex Shapes

The irregular bones of the pelvis (pubis, ilium, and ischium) protect organs in the pelvic cavity.

What nerves control the pelvic floor? ›

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.

What are the types of pelvis? ›

While pelvis shape can vary widely among females, there are four general types: gynecoid, android, anthropoid, and platypelloid. The shape of your pelvis may affect the ease in which you can give birth vaginally. The gynecoid pelvis is the most common pelvis shape in females and is favorable for a vaginal birth.

What ligaments attach to the pubis? ›

Two such ligaments are the superior pubic ligament and the inferior pubic ligament, which provide the most stability; the anterior and posterior ligaments are weaker.

How long does it take for pubic symphysis to heal? ›

A separated pubic symphysis can take 3 to 8 months to heal on its own. For most women with this condition, pain or discomfort lingers for about 2 months after childbirth.

Can I exercise with symphysis pubis dysfunction? ›

While symphysis pubis dysfunction doesn't affect your pregnancy, it can make it difficult to complete everyday tasks. Exercises to help relieve SPD largely focus on strengthening your pelvic and abdominal muscles, which support your pelvis. As a result, you'll feel less pain and it will be easier to move around.

How do you test for symphysis pubis dysfunction? ›

A diagnosis is often made symptomatically e.g. after pregnancy but imaging is the only way to confirm diastasis of the symphysis pubis. Radiography, like an MRI (magnetic resonance imaging), x-ray, CT (computerised tomography) or ultrasound, has been used to confirm the separation of the symphysis pubis.

What is the immediate treatment for osteitis pubis? ›

Many different treatment protocols and strategies have been proposed for osteitis pubis, including conservative management and rehabilitation, injections and surgery. Conservative treatment is the first-line therapeutic approach, and it includes rest, limitation of sporting activities, ice and anti-inflammatory drugs.

How do you sleep with symphysis pubis dysfunction? ›

There are some measures that you can take to ease the pain of SPD and PRGP yourself. Even just small things such as keeping your knees together when you get up and sit down or sleeping with a pillow between your knees may help as they keep the pelvic in a neutral position, placing less pressure on the joints.

Can sitting cause pelvic pain? ›

Sitting down for long periods of time often leads to back or pelvic pain, especially if you don't exercise frequently. Some signs your pelvic pain might be related to prolonged sitting include: Sharp pain in your back. Long-lasting pain in your back and pelvic region.

How do you massage pelvic girdle pain? ›

Pelvic Girdle Pain - Self Treatment Techniques - YouTube

How can I remove pubic hair? ›

A person could try:
  1. Trimming with scissors. Using scissors can be a safe way to achieve a groomed look. ...
  2. Shaving. Shaving is a popular option for removing pubic hair, and it is generally painless. ...
  3. Waxing. Some people prefer using over-the-counter waxing strips or kits. ...
  4. Using hair removal creams. ...
  5. Tweezing.
May 4, 2020

What is the pubic hair area called? ›

It becomes covered with hair at puberty. The vulva has 2 folds of skin. The outer folds are called the labia majora. The inner folds are called the labia minora.

What's the meaning of pubic? ›

Definition of pubic

: of, relating to, or situated in or near the region of the pubes or the pubis.

What is the functional classification of the pubic symphysis? ›

An amphiarthrosis is a slightly moveable joint, such as the pubic symphysis or an intervertebral cartilaginous joint. A diarthrosis is a freely moveable joint.

What is the area right above your privates called? ›

the coxal region (hip region) encompassing the lateral (side) of hips. the pubic region encompassing the area above the genitals.

Videos

1. Arthrology of the pelvis the symphysis pubis
(3D Anatomy Lyon)
2. How to assess and treat the symphysis pubis joint of the pelvis using HVT Shotgun
(John Gibbons)
3. pubis anatomy
(Patricia Massaro)
4. Joints of the Lower Limb - Pubic Symphysis and Sacroiliac Joint | anatomy & function
(Lynh Lee)
5. Microscopic Anatomy of Pubic Lice (Pthirus pubis)
(Down The Scope Microscopy)
6. Osteopathic Manipulative Medicine Considerations in Pelvic Pain
(Journal of Osteopathic Medicine)

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