Could your chronic pelvic pain be Pelvic Congestion Syndrome (PCS)? Chronic pelvic pain is common problem among women that prompts them to see their doctor. According to the National Institutes of Health, chronic pelvic pain accounts for up to 40% of outpatient gynecologic visits. And of those patients reporting chronic pelvic pain, 30-40% of cases are associated with a condition called Pelvic Congestion Syndrome (PCS).
What is Pelvic Congestion Syndrome (PCS)?
Pelvic Congestion Syndrome occurs when the veins in the pelvic region stop working properly. Veins are responsible for carrying blood back to the heart. When these veins are not functioning well, blood can back up, causing varicosities. Varicosities, or varicose veins, in the pelvic region are like those in your legs. The vessels can become enlarged causing pelvic pain along with several other symptoms.
Pelvic Congestion Syndrome Symptoms
The most common symptom of PCS is chronic pelvic pain, meaning it lasts for more than 6 months. This is often described as a dull, aching pain that worsens throughout the day, especially after long periods of standing. Women can also experience:
- Varicose veins in the thighs and vaginal area
- Painful intercourse
- Painful menstrual cycles
- Pelvic pain after physician activity
- Lower back pain
- Swollen vulvar
- Abnormal vaginal bleeding
What are the risk factors for Pelvic Congestion Syndrome?
Pelvic Congestions Syndrome is more likely to develop in women who have given birth. Pregnancy can put added stress on the veins in the pelvic region, causing them to weaken. Also, women who have a family history of PCS are at increased risk.
Diagnosis of Pelvic Congestion Syndrome
Pelvic Congestion Syndrome can be seen through a variety of different imaging tests, including ultrasound, CT scan, MRI, laparoscopy, or venogram. Your doctor may request one or several tests to confirm diagnosis.
Treatment Options for Pelvic Congestion Syndrome
There are several treatment options for Pelvic Congestion Syndrome including hormonal therapy, sclerotherapy and embolization. At Cardiothoracic & Vascular Surgical Associates, we offer pelvic vein embolization as a minimally invasive treatment option.
During this outpatient procedure, one of our vascular surgeons will insert a small catheter into a central vein. Using x-ray guidance, the surgeon will guide the catheter to the problem area and permanently close it off. There are no stiches, and IV medications are used to help comfort you during the procedure.
As an alternative to the hospital, this procedure can be performed at our private, outpatient facility – the Jacksonville Vascular Center.
If you suffer from chronic pelvic pain, you should report this along with any other symptoms you experience to your gynecologist or primary care physician. Through proper testing and evaluation, a correct diagnosis can be made to help relieve your symptoms. If you are diagnosed with Pelvic Congestion Syndrome and treatment is recommended, the vascular surgeons at Cardiothoracic & Vascular Surgical Associates are well versed in the latest minimally invasive treatment techniques. Learn more about our surgeons and the conditions we treat on our website.