A new study in the journal Sleep links restless legs syndrome in pregnant women to the hormone estradiol.
Results show that in the last trimester, pregnant women with RLS have much higher levels of estradiol than healthy controls. Estradiol is an estrogenic steroid hormone.
RLS is more common in women than in men. Symptoms often appear for the first time during pregnancy. These symptoms tend to worsen during pregnancy. Then they may improve or even disappear after delivery. The risk of developing RLS increases gradually with each pregnancy.
RLS is a sleep-related movement disorder. It involves an almost irresistible urge to move the legs at night. This urge tends to occur along with unusual feelings or sensations deep in the legs. These uncomfortable sensations often are described as a burning, tingling, prickling or jittery feeling.
RLS can severely disturb a person’s ability to sleep. Eighty percent to 90 percent of people with RLS also have periodic limb movements during sleep. These are involuntary jerking or twitching movements of the feet or legs.
Disturbed sleep is common during pregnancy. In addition to RLS, pregnant women may experience problems such as snoring and leg cramps.
Learn more about sleep and pregnancy here.