Most people know varicose veins mostly affect the feet and legs. But varicose veins can also occur in the pelvis causing chronic pelvic pain in women; this condition is known as Pelvic Venous Congestion Syndrome (PVCs) or ovarian vein reflux. Herein is a look at the condition, the risk factors, causes, symptoms, and treatment options. Read on to find out more.
Facts About Pelvic Venous Congestion
What is pelvic venous congestion syndrome (PVCs)? Pelvic Venous congestion is the enlargement of blood vessels in the pelvis due to faulty vein valves in the lower abdomen. See, veins have valves to guide blood flow towards the heart. However, these valves become faulty in some cases due to damage or other problems causing blood to flow backward. When this happens in the lower abdomen, blood builds up in the area, causing the veins to enlarge and change shape.
Therefore, PVCs are varicose veins in your pelvis. This engorgement or congestion of blood vessels in the lower abdomen can cause chronic, unbearable pain. It affects at least 1 in three women at some point during their lifetime. Chronic PVCs last more than six months. It is not associated with period pain at all. PVCs are common among women who’ve given birth more than once.
Chronic PVCs last longer than half a year. PVCs are commonly experienced for the first time during or following pregnancy. It is characterized by a heavy aching feeling that may get worse as pregnancy progresses. In most cases, you feel the pain on the left side only. But at other times, you may feel the pain on both the left and right sides. PVCs pain is usually worse during the evenings.
Certain factors also aggravate PVCs pain; these include:
Causes of Pelvic Venous Congestion Syndrome
- Enlarged veins are indeed the major cause of pelvic congestion and pain. However, some women have enlarged veins without the symptoms. Therefore, scientists are still trying to understand the causes of the syndrome. In most cases, factors such as pregnancies and polycystic ovaries enlarge blood vessels and cause symptoms.
- Still, in other cases, hormones may play a role in developing pelvic venous congestion syndrome (PVCs). For example, estrogen is well-known to cause dilation of veins. This may be why the condition affects women between ages 20 and 45 mostly; because, after menopause, estrogen levels decrease.
- Weight, too, and pelvic structural changes during pregnancy may contribute to the development of the syndrome. For example, weight exerts excess pressure within the lower abdomen veins, weakening their walls and enlarging.
Who is at risk of pelvic venous congestion? Women are predisposed to PVCs because of the estrogen hormone. Stats show that women between ages 20 and 45 are most likely to be affected. Factors that commonly cause the condition include:
- More than one pregnancy
- Retroverted or tipped uterus
- Polycystic ovaries
- Fuller leg veins
- Increase in estrogen levels
How is Pelvic Congestion Syndrome Diagnosed?
There are various ways to diagnose pelvic congestion with Pedes Orange County state-of-art diagnostic and testing. These include CTs and MRI scans, pelvic venography, and ultrasounds. However, it’s not easy to diagnose the syndrome because while many women experience pelvic pain, not all are due to congestion of blood vessels. Indeed, some pelvic pains have psychological origins, others are caused by issues within the reproductive, gastrointestinal, and urinary system, and still, others are caused by bones or muscles.
Therefore, your doctor will consider all the above and ask for urine and blood samples, consider your health history, etc. However, X-rays, MRIs, CTS, and Ultrasound are the surest ways of detecting pelvic congestion.
When Should I Contact My Doctor?
Some women have enlarged veins with no symptoms; others have enlarged veins that cause pains and aches. In most cases, these don’t require a medical emergency. The symptoms should reduce as you head into menopause. However, in case of chronic, unbearable pain, nothing is stopping you from seeking medical help. In fact, see your healthcare giver right away for help.
What are the Pros and Cons of Pelvic Vein/Ovarian Embolization?
Treatments for Pelvic Venous Congestion (PVCs)
What are the treatment options for pelvic venous congestion (PVCs)? Available treatment options for PVCs include pain-relieving progestin hormone drugs, ovarian function-blocking Gonadotropin-releasing hormones, pelvic venous embolization…
What to Expect from Your Visit to Pedes
Your treatment will begin with an ultrasound examination of your veins, arteries, or both, in your legs to diagnose the presence and extent of the disease. Your test results will be immediately available to review with the doctor.
Once we review the results of your diagnostic tests, our physicians will help you develop a plan to provide you with the best treatment for your disease.
Depending on the extent of disease in your arteries or veins, our specialists may recommend minimally invasive intervention and/or prescribe medications to help your symptoms.
It is important to make sure that you return for every scheduled follow-up appointment to ensure that your disease is appropriately monitored. If you ever have any questions or concerns, please call or schedule a follow-up appointment with our staff.