Feeling A Little Beat Up
Boxing match rules allow fighters to punch above the waist. With pelvic congestion syndrome (PCS), it can feel as though these rules were reversed. As many as 15% of women experience chronic pelvic pain. Premenopausal women endure cramps for several days each month. With PCS, the pain lasts at least 6 months.
There are many causes for PCS. Many women have enlarged pelvic veins without symptoms. During pregnancy, these veins grow to support additional blood flow. Veins in the lower abdomen are sometimes permanently engorged or congested. This can lead to problems like PCS. Pain is usually only on one side, primarily the left side. At times pelvic pain is on both sides.
Factors That Can Increase Pain
- Changing posture
- Having sex (both during and after)
- Standing for a long time
- Bloating and nausea
- Pain before or during menstrual cycles
- Feeling sudden need to urinate
- Enlarged veins on buttocks, thighs or vulva
Your healthcare provider or an ob-gyn doctor will perform a physical examination. A medical specialist can provide a followup exam.
Differential Tests For PCS
- Blood tests to check for pregnancy, sexually transmitted infections (STIs), anemia, and other conditions
- Urine tests to check for problems with your urinary system
- Pelvic ultrasound to look for growths in the pelvis
- Doppler ultrasound to check the blood flow in the pelvic blood vessels
- CT scan or MRI for more detailed pictures
- Diagnostic laparoscopy to rule out other causes of pelvic pain
- A procedure to take X-rays of the pelvic veins (venography)
If you have a sharp, sudden persistent pain, see your healthcare provider right away. Before your visit, write down questions that you want answered. Bring someone along to help you ask questions and remember what your healthcare provider tells you.
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Pelvic Congestion Syndrome Treatments
Some medications may provide relief from pain. A surgical treatment for PCS includes tying of veins in the affected area. For most patients with moderate to severe pelvic congestion, Ovarian Vein Embolization offers a safe, non-surgical pelvic venous insufficiency treatment.
Through a catheter, a physician inserts small coils to block some of the blood flow. This reduces the pressure in the vein and redirects the blood to healthier pathways. If you are a woman who frequently feels pain in the pelvis, have a PCS evaluation by your physician.
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- Pelvic Congestion Syndrome. cedars-sinai.org
- Pelvic Congestion Syndrome. nycsurgical.net
- Durham JD, Machan L. Pelvic congestion syndrome. Semin Intervent Radiol. 2013;30(4):372-380. doi:10.1055/s-0033-1359731
- Paulus T, Voigts B, Ulbrich A, Stelzner C, Kittner T, Abolmaali N. Pelvic congestion syndrom - known and new devices to occlude ovarian veins. Dresden/DE. dos: 10.1594/ecr2016/C-0206