What is Pelvic Congestion Syndrome (PCS)?
Pelvic Congestion Syndrome is a condition associated with varicose veins in the pelvic area, lower abdomen and thighs, often accompanied by chronic pelvic pain.
It is estimated that up to 1/3 of all women are affected by pelvic congestion syndrome. PCS is generally diagnosed in women between the ages of 20 and 50 who have had one or more pregnancies. Pelvic congestion syndrome is rarely diagnosed in women who have never given birth.
What Causes Pelvic Congestion Syndrome
Pelvic Congestion Syndrome is the result of venous insufficiency in the pelvic region. The specific cause is often not known, but generally, the ovarian veins increase during each pregnancy and do not return to normal in women with pelvic congestion syndrome.
Symptoms of Pelvic Congestion Syndrome
Most patients present after developing symptoms, though it is possible for women to have PCS with no symptoms. Most commonly, women with PCS experience generalized pain in the lower abdomen, pelvic region and/or lower back.
The following signs or symptoms are common in women with Pelvic Congestion Syndrome:
- Dull, throbbing and/or achy pain in the pelvic area
- Pain may worsen during or after sex
- Pain may also worsen during menstruation
- PCS is often not symptomatic in the morning, but will become so throughout the day, especially with prolonged standing or sitting
- Varicose veins in the legs are often present in women with PCS
- Pronounced veins may also be present around the vagina, in the upper thigh and along the buttocks
How is Pelvic Congestion Syndrome Diagnosed?
Pelvic congestion syndrome is difficult to diagnose, so it is important to seek a specialist who is experienced with the condition. The Center for Vascular Medicine is one of the nation’s leading centers for the diagnosis and treatment of PCS. Our physicians have seen hundreds of women and are working to advance awareness of the condition.
Patients with pelvic pain are often referred to the Center for Vascular Medicine by their OB/GYN or primary care physician. Our doctors will conduct a thorough physical examination and review your medical history. Pelvic congestion syndrome can be further evaluated in the outpatient setting using various ultrasound and x-ray techniques:
- Pelvic ultrasound
- Intravascular ultrasound
How is Pelvic Congestion Syndrome Treated?
If PCS is diagnosed, Center for Vascular Medicine offers a variety of outpatient-based endovascular techniques to open up the arteries and veins and improve blood flow.
Embolization therapy is usually the first line treatment for symptomatic Pelvic Congestion Syndrome. It is a minimally invasive procedure to close the damaged pelvic veins which will restore healthy blood flow.
There are several methods for embolization. Typically, medicine is injected into the vessel through a catheter, causing the vein to collapse. Blood flow will be naturally rerouted to healthier veins.
Another method involves inserting a coil, guided by a catheter into the vessel. Once the metal coil is deployed to the proper position, it will restrict the flow of blood beyond the coil. Normal blood flow will be rerouted through healthy veins.