Pelvic congestion syndrome (PCS), also known as pelvic vein incompetence, is a chronic condition in women caused by varicose veins in the lower abdomen area. This condition can cause chronic pain and even lead to disability. Around one-third of all women will suffer from chronic pelvic pain in their lifetime, so diagnosing this condition can be difficult. Usually, if the pelvic pain worsens when sitting or standing and gets better when lying down, this is a good sign of PCS.
PCS is correlated to ovarian and pelvic vein dilation, which can cause varicose veins to appear in the pelvis, vaginal, thigh and buttock areas. Around 15 percent of women have varicose veins in the abdominal area, but not everyone experiences symptoms.
The true cause of PCS is unclear, but it is believed anatomic and hormonal abnormalities or dysfunction can lead to the development of this condition. The main group who experiences PCS are women between the ages of 20 and 45 with multiple pregnancies.
Factors That Contribute To Pelvic Congestion Syndrome
PCS can be caused by many different factors including: being a female, younger than 45, multiple pregnancies, polycystic ovaries, hormonal increases, hormonal dysfunction, a retroverted uterus, and fullness of leg veins.
Symptoms Of Pelvic Congestion Syndrome
- Dull or aching pain in the pelvis or lower back, especially when standing or during the menstrual period.
- Irritable bladder
- Irritable bowel
- Vaginal or vulvar varicose veins
- Varicose veins in the upper inner thighs or back of thighs
- Discomfort during or after sexual intercourse
Dr. Fakhri treats patients with PCS. When treated early, a person may be given pain medication or go through acupuncture to reduce symptoms. Many patients undergo a noninvasive procedure called ovarian vein embolization. An ovarian vein embolization is when a catheter is placed directly into the abnormal ovarian vein and pelvic veins. Sclerosing agents are injected into the varicose veins and small metal coils/plugs are put in place to blow the flow into the ovarian vein. 75 to 80 percent of patients feel an improvement from this procedure.