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What is Pelvic Congestion Syndrome?

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What is Pelvic Congestion Syndrome?

Many women experience pelvic pain at different points in their lives, from menstrual cramps to pain during menopause. While these pains may come and go, other chronic conditions like pelvic congestive syndrome (PCS) can cause lasting pain. And when pelvic pain is so severe it disrupts your life or doesn’t go away by itself, it may be time to see a doctor.

What is PCS?

Pelvic Congestion Syndrome, also known as PCS is a common cause of pelvic pain in women. While it’s believed to impact up to a third of women of reproductive age, it’s often underdiagnosed.

PCS develops when the valves that control blood flow in the veins of your abdomen and pelvis stop working as they should. This dysfunction may lead to a backflow of blood in your pelvis that can cause enlargement of these veins, leading to swelling and pain.

This syndrome doesn’t have any known risk factors, but some research suggests it may be linked to hormonal dysfunction or multiple pregnancies. Also, PCS symptoms often don’t develop until after women have been pregnant.

Symptoms of PCS

The pain from PCS can be constant or come and go, especially with your menstrual cycle. Common PCS symptoms are:

  • Bulging or varicose veins in your pelvis and thighs
  • Difficulty controlling your bladder
  • Dull, achy pain in your pelvis
  • Pain during intercourse

How is PCS Diagnosed?

PCS is often underdiagnosed in women because the symptoms that cause it are easily confused with other conditions. Women usually go to their OB/GYN when experiencing pelvic pain. However, it’s also common for PCS to be diagnosed and treated by a vascular surgeon.

If you’re experiencing symptoms, your physician will screen for PCS with a physical exam to check the veins in your abdomen and pelvis, which is similar to how we look for varicose veins. Your doctor will then order additional imaging, including an ultrasound or CT scan, to definitively diagnose PCS and learn more about the extent of your syndrome.

Patients with PCS may need a referral to see these specialists.

PCS Treatment

While there’s very little women can do to prevent PCS, there are many effective treatment options to relieve bothersome symptoms. These treatments don’t cure PCS, but they can temporarily fix the faulty veins that are causing symptoms.

It’s also important to know that treating PCS is a collaborative effort. Vascular surgeons work closely with primary care physicians, obstetricians/gynecologists and other specialists to treat PCS and ensure patients get the best possible care.

Treatment options for PCS include:

  • Hormonal treatments like gonadotropin-releasing hormone or progestin that are managed by an OB/GYN
  • Minimally invasive procedures like coil embolization to help decrease congestion in pelvic veins and relieve pain

“Symptoms of PCS include abdominal or pelvic discomfort and pain. The condition is often underdiagnosed If you are experiencing these symptoms, you may need further evaluation from a specialist.,” says Diego Ayo, MD, a board-certified vascular surgeon with AdventHealth Tampa. “We’re pleased to offer in-office diagnosis and minimally invasive options to help treat symptoms and relieve pain that’s simple for patients to manage.”

Support to be Pain-Free

Being in constant pain is no way to live. That’s why the team at AdventHealth Tampa is here to help you feel whole with proven treatment for PCS and other pelvic and urogynecology conditions, and today’s latest technology. Learn more.

About Dr. Ayo

Diego Ayo, MD
Diego Ayo, MD

Diego Ayo, MD, is board certified in general and vascular surgery and specializes in diagnosing and treating conditions of the veins, arteries and capillaries. He believes in partnering with patients and taking the extra time to explain to them their diagnosis, give them all their treatment options and involve them in the decision making. Dr. Ayo grew up in the Tampa bay area and enjoys spending time with his family. He is fluent in Spanish.

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