Pelvic Congestion Syndrome

Pelvic congestion syndrome (PCS) is a condition that causes chronic pelvic pain. Many experts think enlarged veins in the pelvic area are the cause of this syndrome.

Some women develop faulty valves in their pelvic veins. If this happens, blood can pool inside the veins and begin to swell, like with varicose veins. This may lead to pain and other symptoms of pelvic congestion syndrome.

Hormones may also play a role in pelvic congestion syndrome. For example, estrogen can widen veins. This may be why the condition is less common after menopause, when estrogen levels are lower.

Do I Have Pelvic Congestion Syndrome?

The main symptom of pelvic congestion syndrome is chronic pelvic pain. This pain often starts during a pregnancy, and may grow worse as the pregnancy progresses.

The pain can range from sharp sensations to a dull or heavy aching. Most women experience pain on one side (often the left side). The pain is usually more severe near the end of the day.

Certain factors may make the pain worse:

  • Walking
  • Shifting posture
  • Sexual intercourse
  • Long periods of standing

Some women also experience symptoms such as:

  • Pain before or during their periods
  • A sudden urge to urinate
  • Swollen and distorted veins on the thighs, buttocks, or external genitals

Common Risk Factors

You may have a higher risk for pelvic congestion syndrome if you have had more than one pregnancy. You may also have an elevated risk if you have a family history of PCS.

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