What is Pelvic Congestion Syndrome?

iStock 1094871496 1 At the Vascular Institute of Virginia, we perform Ovarian Vein Embolization (OVE) for Pelvic Congestion Syndrome. This condition is not one that is well-known by the general population, so symptoms could be overlooked. Here, we discuss the signs and symptoms of Pelvic congestion syndrome and what may contribute to its development. 

Pelvic congestion syndrome is the diagnosis that describes chronic pelvic pain that persists for longer than six months. A diagnosis is often followed by tests to rule out other conditions, such as endometriosis, fibroids, ovarian cysts, urinary problems, cancer, or infection. It is believed that pelvic congestion syndrome is underdiagnosed due to lack of awareness regarding this condition, which is one of many reasons it is important that we discuss it. 

Symptoms of Pelvic Congestion Syndrome

Pelvic congestion syndrome affects women. Usually, the condition develops during a woman’s childbearing years, often before age 45. The symptoms that present are not much unlike symptoms of other common pelvic conditions, so it can take some time for a medical team to reach an accurate diagnosis. Some of the symptoms that are common to pelvic congestion syndrome include:

  • Pelvic pain that gets worse with standing or as the day progresses. 
  • Pelvic pain that is worse after sex, certain physical activities, or during menstruation.
  • Swelling of the vulva
  • Vaginal discharge
  • Abnormal vaginal bleeding
  • Low back pain
  • Hemorrhoids
  • Varicose veins in the legs or genital region
  • Fatigue

What Causes Pelvic Congestion Syndrome?

Research has yet to determine an exact cause of pelvic congestion syndrome. Experts do understand that the condition involves the development of one or more varicose veins on the ovaries or along the reproductive tract. A varicose vein is one in which blood is not moving forward as it should. Some blood pools, causing the vein to swell. While the exact cause is unknown, research has discovered a few risk factors that may contribute to pelvic congestion syndrome. The most common is pregnancy. This is due to the changes in the structure of the pelvic to accommodate a growing fetus and childbirth. The increase in blood volume during pregnancy also plays a role. Additional risk factors include:

  • Hormonal irregularities
  • Family history of pelvic congestion syndrome
  • Polycystic ovary syndrome
  • A tipped or retroverted uterus

Put an End to Pelvic Pain

Once an accurate diagnosis of pelvic congestion syndrome is made, proper treatment can follow. Ovarian vein embolization is a minimally-invasive, outpatient procedure that closes off the faulty veins that are causing pain. To schedule a consultation for this procedure at our Fredericksburg or Woodbridge office, call 703-763-5224.

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