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Pelvic congestion syndrome is a common but often misunderstood condition that affects women in their childbearing years. It is associated with varicose veins in the pelvic region, including around the ovaries, uterus, and vulva, and causes chronic pelvic pain. Fortunately, treatments similar to those that treat varicose veins in the legs can ease the symptoms. If you have been diagnosed with pelvic congestion syndrome in Houston, here are the facts you need to know.

What Causes Pelvic Congestion Syndrome?

Pelvic congestion syndrome is caused by varicose veins in the pelvis that appear for the same reasons they develop in other parts of the body. The valves in the veins in the pelvic region may weaken, which allows blood that is supposed to travel back to the heart to instead pool in the veins. The excess blood causes the veins to swell, in this case pressing against structures in the pelvis. This kind of venous insufficiency is fairly common in women between the ages of 20 and 50, but not every woman with varicose veins in the pelvis will experience symptoms. What causes the vein valves to weaken is not known, but hormone fluctuations, multiple pregnancies, and polycystic ovary syndrome may all play roles.

What Are the Symptoms?

Chronic, dull, aching pain in the lower back and abdomen is the most common symptom of pelvic congestion syndrome. The pain typically intensifies during menstruation, after long periods of standing, and after intercourse. It may also get worse during pregnancy. Some women also experience abnormal bleeding or vaginal discharge, irritable bladder, and varicose veins around the buttocks and thighs. Pelvic congestion syndrome can be challenging to diagnose. After other conditions have been ruled out, imaging tests can help doctors pinpoint varicose veins in the pelvis.

What Treatments Are Available?

A vein specialist can treat pelvic congestion syndrome using treatments that resolve varicose veins in other parts of the body. After treatment, most women experience a dramatic improvement in their symptoms. Other treatments, including pain medications and birth control pills, can also help control symptoms.