Pelvic congestion syndrome is a condition marked by chronic pelvic pain that persists for six months or longer. Your doctor may reach this diagnosis after ruling out other possible causes for the pain, including infection, cancer, cysts, fibroids, endometriosis, or other problems with the uterus, ovaries, urinary system, or bowels. Pelvic congestion syndrome may be underdiagnosed because many women are not aware of this condition.
At Dignity Health, our experienced team provides excellent, personalized care for anyone with chronic pelvic pain or other symptoms of pelvic congestion syndrome. Find a Doctor today and book an appointment.
You may experience pain, heaviness, or discomfort in your lower abdominal or pelvic region. This generalized chronic pelvic pain is often accompanied by other symptoms, including:
- Pelvic pain that worsens as the day goes on, particularly if much time is spent standing
- Pelvic pain that worsens during menstruation, after sex, or after certain physical activities
- Swollen vulva
- Varicose veins in the genital region or legs
- Low back pain
- Vaginal discharge
- Abnormal vaginal bleeding
Signs and symptoms vary from woman to woman. Because these symptoms are also associated with other medical conditions, it may take some time to arrive at a correct diagnosis.
The exact cause of pelvic congestion syndrome is unclear, but experts believe that problems with the ovarian vein may cause it. This may include varicose veins on the ovaries and along the female reproductive tract.
Varicose veins are veins in which the valves that control the flow of blood do not work correctly, causing blood to pool in the vein and the vein to become enlarged. Many women have varicose veins in their reproductive tract. Some of these women have pain and pelvic congestion syndrome, while others do not.
There are a few risk factors that can make pelvic congestion syndrome more likely. The most significant of these is past pregnancies, particularly if you have had more than one child.
Pregnancy can alter the structure of the pelvis, which can affect the blood vessels. In addition, during pregnancy, the volume of blood in a woman’s body increases, putting more pressure on them at the same time that increased estrogen might weaken the walls of the blood vessels.
Additional risk factors include:
- Family history of the disorder
- Age (women in their childbearing years are at higher risk)
- A retroverted or tipped uterus
- Hormonal dysfunction
- Polycystic ovaries
Short of choosing not to have children, there isn’t much you can do to prevent pelvic congestion syndrome. Even then, women who have not had children can develop the condition. The best things you can do to help prevent it or minimize the symptoms include:
- Eating a healthy diet rich in fresh, whole foods and minimally processed and refined foods
- Getting plenty of exercise
- Avoiding or quitting smoking
The information contained in this article is meant for educational purposes only and should not replace advice from your healthcare provider.