Pelvic Vein Congestion

Pelvic pain in the lower abdominal region is an unfortunately common symptom experienced by men and women everywhere. Many patients who regularly suffer from pelvic pain find themselves feeling frustrated and discouraged by the difficulty of receiving an accurate diagnosis and proper treatment. With so many vital organs and systems located in the pelvic region, determining the exact cause of chronic pain can be incredibly difficult. Pelvic pain may result from issues with the reproductive, urinary, digestive or musculoskeletal systems but can also be associated with a wide range of other health issues.

For some patients, their pelvic pain results from an underdiagnosed condition called pelvic congestion syndrome (PCS). In order to accurately diagnose a patient with PCS, physicians often first need to perform blood and urine tests, pelvic ultrasounds and sometimes even advanced imaging like CT scans and MRIs. Through a diagnosis of exclusion, doctors can then identify the root cause of their patient’s chronic pain and recommend a number of cutting-edge treatments, such as those offered at Owensboro Medical Practice.

What Is Pelvic Congestion Syndrome?

Pelvic congestion syndrome is a condition characterized by chronic pain in the pelvic region. Much of the causes of PCS are not well-understood, but both men and women are susceptible to its effects. Because pregnancy is believed to play a key role in its development, women are thought to be affected by PCS more often than men. The hormonal fluctuations and increased blood flow that occur during pregnancy can cause veins to become dilated and lead to symptoms. Common symptoms include:

  • Dull or sharp pelvic pain that lasts longer than six months
  • Increased pelvic pain before or during periods
  • Varicose veins present on the buttocks, vulva, testicles or thighs
  • Localized or diffuse pain in the lower abdomen
  • Increased pain during certain activities like exercise or sitting down
  • Pain during intercourse

PCS develops when pelvic and gonadal veins become insufficient and backflow with blood. Retrograde—or reversed—blood flow occurs when the valves responsible for keeping blood moving upward and toward the heart begin to fail, allowing blood to flow in the wrong direction. The incompetent veins that enable the reversed blood flow then start to enlarge and become tortuous, creating uncomfortable symptoms and potentially causing complications.

Venous insufficiency is a common occurrence in older men and women and creates varicose and spider veins in the lower limbs. When blood vessels located in the pelvic region become insufficient, chronic pelvic pain typically emerges as the key symptom. Not every patient with insufficient pelvic and gonadal veins experiences chronic pelvic pain or other symptoms, however.