What Is Pelvic Congestion Syndrome?
When varicose veins develop around the ovaries, it can result in a chronic medical condition called pelvic congestion syndrome. Fortunately, some simple treatments are available.
Chronic pelvic pain is a common problem for American women, accounting for 10 to 15% of referrals to gynecologists and pain clinics. While it can be a result of gastrointestinal, urinary, or reproductive issues, it’s often the product of a condition called pelvic congestion syndrome (PCS), a disorder caused by the formation of varicose veins around the ovaries. Unfortunately, many physicians are unfamiliar with PCS, leading them to overlook or misdiagnose it. We’ll provide a brief overview of it for you here and help you find appropriate treatment.
The primary symptoms of PCS are a dull ache and occasional stabbing sensations in the pelvic region. The pain is caused by varicose veins developing around the ovaries. It tends to be worsened by pregnancy, but it can affect any woman at any time. As blood accumulates in the malfunctioning veins, they become increasingly distended, further exacerbating the pain. Other common symptoms include:
Pain during or immediately after intercourse
Pain during or around menstrual cycles
Pain after strenuous exercise
Pain in the lower back and legs
Abnormal menstrual bleeding
Fatigue, headaches, bloating, and mood swings
PCS can be diagnosed with a number of tools, including ultrasonography, laparoscopy, and CT and MRI scans. The “gold standard,” however, is either venography or intravascular ultrasound (IVUS). During a venographic exam, a vein specialist injects a contrasting agent into a patient’s veins and takes an X-ray of them to identify the source of the pain. During IVUS, the specialist uses a miniaturized ultrasound probe that provides a 360-degree image of the affected vein, helping the specialist quickly locate the issue.
While PCS is a chronic condition, there are many effective treatments available for it. Since estrogen can contribute to it, hormonal therapy can greatly alleviate or completely eliminate symptoms in most patients. In other cases, PCS is best treated with a process called embolization. During this procedure, a gynecologist or vein specialist will thread a catheter into the inflamed vein and then insert a coil, sponge, or glue-like liquid into the it to block circulation. This course of treatment is successful in over 95% of cases, bringing significant improvement to 85 to 95% of patients.
Pelvic congestion syndrome can result in debilitating pain, but if it’s properly diagnosed, it can be easily treated. If you think you might be suffering from it, contact a vein specialist today to discuss your symptoms and possible treatments.