Have you ever heard of pelvic congestion syndrome (PCS)? Chances are you haven’t. And that means the first thing many women don’t know is that the condition exists.
It’s important to be aware of PCS because it’s a common problem, and it causes one-third of all cases of chronic pelvic pain.
If you don’t have an underlying gynecological condition but you still have ongoing pelvic pain, you owe it to yourself to meet with Kishore Arcot, MD, FACC, at Memphis Vein Center to learn if PCS is the source of your symptoms.
Here are the top five things you need to know about PCS:
Varicose veins cause PCS
Your legs aren’t the only place where bulging varicose veins develop. In fact, varicose veins can occur anywhere in your body. When the problem affects the veins serving your ovaries and uterus, you have PCS.
No matter where they occur, varicose veins begin when valves inside the vessels weaken or stop working. This allows blood to flow in the wrong direction, where it gets trapped and builds up in the vein.
The accumulating blood makes the vein walls expand, pulling on and weakening the valves. The trapped blood turns healthy veins into twisted, engorged varicose veins.
Varicose veins appear in unexpected places
Many women with PCS also develop varicose veins in places they would never expect. If you have PCS, it’s common to have varicose veins in your vagina, vulva (external genitalia), upper thighs, and buttocks.
Since the veins in your vulva, thighs, and buttocks are visible, they may be one of the first signs of PCS.
Pregnancy raises your risk
PCS often starts during pregnancy. When you’re pregnant, your blood volume increases to meet the needs of your developing baby.
Along with the boost in blood volume, your veins naturally enlarge, increasing their capacity by an amazing 60%. As a result, the vein walls and valves stretch, leading to dysfunctional valves.
Women with several pregnancies or who carry multiple babies have the highest risk of PCS. If pelvic pain (whether a dull ache, heaviness, pressure, or sharp pain) begins in your third trimester or during the weeks after your delivery, you may have PCS.
Once PCS develops, it doesn’t get better, so your pain sticks around. You may find that the pain is worse after prolonged standing or sitting, after sexual intercourse, or during your menstrual periods.
Treatment provides long-lasting pain relief
After a complete exam and diagnostic testing to determine if you have PCS, we often recommend a minimally invasive treatment called ovarian vein embolization.
During the procedure, we make a tiny incision and insert a catheter into a blood vessel in your thigh. Then we guide the catheter to the diseased ovarian veins and release substances that seal the blood vessel.
The treated vein permanently closes and your body naturally reroutes blood through other functioning veins. The procedure restores healthy circulation while eliminating the pain of PCS.
Advocate for your health
Your gynecologist should always be the first doctor you see for pelvic pain. But if they rule out all possible gynecologic and urologic causes and you still struggle with chronic pelvic pain, don’t hesitate to learn more about PCS.
If you have questions about pelvic pain and PCS, call us at our Memphis, Tennessee, center or request an appointment online today.