PCS is essentially varicose veins in the pelvis. It is the cause of chronic pelvic pain in approximately 13 – 14 % of women1. Research has shown that 1 in every 7 women, and 1 in 5 women who have had children, have varicose veins that come from the pelvis.
There are three major vessels involved in the venous drainage of the pelvis – the external iliac vein, internal iliac vein and ovarian vein. Varicose veins are most commonly seen in the legs and are caused by valve malfunction (valves in the veins do not work properly and they do not stop blood from flowing backwards). Veins become less elastic, bulky and enlarged. When this happens to the pelvic veins, visible varicose veins emerge in the pelvic region and the pressure often causes severe pain and discomfort. The varicose veins in the pelvis surround the ovary and can also push on the bladder and rectum.
Pelvic Congestion Symptoms
Pain is the most common symptom. It usually appears on one side but can affect both sides, worsening while standing, lifting, when you are tired at the end of the day, during pregnancy and during or after sexual intercourse. Veins are also affected by the menstrual cycle/hormones and therefore pain may increase during menstruation.
- Pelvic pain or aching around the pelvis and lower abdomen.
- Dragging sensation or pain in the pelvis
- Feeling of fullness in the legs
- Worsening of stress incontinence
- Symptoms usually improve by lying down.
- Worsening in the symptoms associated with irritable bowel syndrome.
Pelvic Congestion Causes
Pregnancy is the most common cause of pelvic congestion. The increase in estrogen that weakens the blood vessel walls, structural changes to the woman’s pelvis that can affect some blood vessels, and the inability of the veins to cope with the fluid and weight that a woman gains to support her baby can all contribute to this condition.
Pelvic Congestion Diagnosis
- May-Thurner Syndrome (MTS)
- Nutcracker Syndrome