Pelvic Congestion Syndrome

Pelvic congestion syndrome is similar to varicose veins in the legs. In both cases, the valves in the veins that help return blood to the heart against gravity become weakened and don’t close properly, this allows blood to flow backwards and pool in the vein causing pressure and bulging veins. 

In the pelvis, varicose veins can cause pain and affect the uterus, ovaries and vulva. Up to 15 percent of women, generally between the ages of 20 and 50, have varicose veins in the pelvis, although not all experience symptoms. Women with pelvic congestion syndrome are typically less than 45 years old and in their child-bearing years –  and is unusual in women who have not been pregnant. Ovarian veins increase in size related to previous pregnancies. 

Many women with pelvic congestion syndrome, spend many years trying to get an answer to why they have this chronic pelvic pain. Living with chronic pelvic pain is difficult and affects not only the woman directly, but also her interactions with her family, friends, and her general outlook on life. Because the cause of the pelvic pain is not diagnosed, no therapy is provided even though there is therapy available.

This video is about pelvic congestion syndrome – what it is, and how it can be treated.

Why is the Diagnosis so hard to make?

The diagnosis is often missed because women lie down for a pelvic exam, relieving pressure from the ovarian veins, so that the veins no longer bulge with blood as they do while a woman is standing. 

What are the symptoms?

The chronic pain that is associated with this disease is usually dull and aching. The pain is usually felt in the lower abdomen and lower back. Women also complain of a swollen vulva/vagina and varicose veins involving the buttocks, vaginal area, and upper thighs.  Other complaints include a backache, lethargy, and depression. The pain often increases when you have or are experiencing the following:

  • Vaginal intercourse 
  • Menstrual periods
  • When tired or when standing (usually worse at end of day) 
  • Pregnancy
  • Irritable bladder
  • Abnormal menstrual bleeding
  • Vaginal discharge
  • Varicose veins on vulva, buttocks or thigh.

According to VeinDirectory.org , pain of varying severity is the most common complaint. The pain is typically dull and not cyclical. The pain is usually worse:

  • Just before the onset of the menstrual cycle
  • At the end of the day
  • After prolonged standing
  • During or just after intercourse
  • During later stages of pregnancy

What options are best for treatment?

There are various options for women suffering with PCS. This article contains as few of them.

Many women consider hormonal medications, prescribed by a gynecologist to reduce blood flow and congestion of the varicose veins. If these are ineffective, then minimally invasive therapies may be considered such as nonsurgical embolization (intentional plugging) of the varicose veins. This is an outpatient procedure, in which an Interventional Radiologist inserts a small catheter (plastic tube) into a central vein in the upper arm, shoulder, or thigh and guides it to the problem area using X-ray guidance. No incisions or stitches are required and there is no sensation inside while this is happening. Intravenous medications are all that is required for comfort and relaxation. (Article)

The varicose veins are permanently sealed off from the inside. Patients typically return to work and light activities the following day, and to full activities in a week.

Pelvic Congestion Syndrome: Diagnosis and Treatment – Interventional Radiology in particular is quite promising for offering definitive diagnosis and symptomatic relief to PCS patients.

Many women try Nature’s Way Leg Veins for vein support.

V2 Supporter - Pelvic PainConsider using massage,TENS unit, ultrasound unit, yoga, meditation, essential oils walking, swimming, as they have also been known to be helpful.

Other women have used the V2 Supporter. Compression therapy for vulvar varicosities or the feeling that “everything is going to fall out the bottom.”

What is the role of alternative medicine in the treatment of PCS?

 Alternative health care approaches to the treatment of PCS have included:

  • Physical therapy
  • Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation
  • Behavior and psychological counseling
  • Trigger point injections
  • Epidural and spinal nerve blocks
  • Acupuncture

Consider joining this group on Facebook for support and information.