Pelvic Congestion Syndrome Treatment
Pain in the pelvis should not be ignored, especially after you have given birth to children. This heavy pain may be caused by a medical issue called pelvic congestion syndrome. In this article, we will take a look at the symptoms and pelvic congestion syndrome treatment options.
What is Pelvic Congestion Syndrome?
Pelvic congestion syndrome (PCS) is a condition that occurs in women, causing chronic pelvic pain. The root of this pain is thought to be caused by varicose-like veins that can develop around the ovaries. Veins carry blood back to the heart and when pelvic congestion syndrome occurs, the valves inside the veins function abnormally, causing blood to back up. The result of this congested blood is painful enlarged veins in the lower abdomen.
Pelvic congestion syndrome happens commonly in women of childbearing age. The condition is more common in women who have given birth to more than one child and it is an issue that affects approximately one-third of women.
Causes of Pelvic Congestion Syndrome
Complications with the veins in the pelvic area are the best explanation as to the cause of pelvic congestion syndrome. Research is ongoing to determine what causes the formation of these enlarged veins. Two possible contributors to PCS are pregnancy and hormones:
- Pregnancy causes the body to go through many changes; it temporarily creates enlarged veins to support increased blood flow while the baby grows. Doctors speculate that pregnancy may permanently cause enlarged veins in some women, leading to PCS symptoms and diagnosis.
- Hormones, such as estrogen, cause the veins to dilate, making them wider. One indication that hormones play a part is that pelvic congestion syndrome is not common after menopause (when estrogen levels are minimal).
Pelvic Congestion Syndrome Symptoms
You may attribute pain in the pelvis as the result of an injury, too much exercise, or sleeping in a strange position. However, if your pelvic pain lasts at least six months, PCS is more likely the case than pain from external sources. Symptoms that may appear with PCS are:
- Enlarged or distorted veins on the buttocks, vulva, or thighs
- Sharp or aching pain in the pelvis
- Pelvic pain starting during or after pregnancy
- Pain typically on one side of the pelvis, usually the left; occasionally, pain is experienced on both sides of the pelvis
- Pain that worsens through the day, especially if you sit or stand all-day
- Pain before or during your menstrual period
- Pain that worsens after certain physical activities, such as biking
- A sudden need to urinate
Your doctor will evaluate your condition and determine the treatment that is best suited to you. In the majority of cases, treatment involves painkillers, hormonal medications, medical intervention, or natural remedies.
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If your pain is minimal and it does not interrupt your daily life but hurts enough for you to need to take a painkiller, there are over the counter or prescription options available. If purchasing over the counter, use a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug, like ibuprofen, for a quick solution. If pain is more severe, your doctor can prescribe painkillers to help you feel better.
Based on your medical history and symptoms, your doctor may prescribe hormonal medications to ease your pain. One option is gonadotropin-releasing hormone drugs, which blocks ovarian function and may relieve pain. Another choice is progestin hormone drugs which help relieve the pain.
If medication does not help with PCS symptoms, your medical practitioner may suggest undergoing a procedure to treat your pelvic pain. There are a couple of minor procedures performed by a doctor that shut off damaged veins, making them a non-issue.
Embolization is a favored treatment option to reduce symptoms and it is proven effective in reducing pelvic pain. In this minimally invasive procedure, the doctor inserts a thin catheter into the femoral vein and uses x-ray guidance to find the enlarged veins. The doctor places tiny coils within the veins to seal them closed, essentially “plugging” the vein.
Sclerotherapy is a similar procedure where the doctor inserts a catheter and injects a solution into the veins to permanently block them.
In some instances, a doctor may recommend surgery when pain is unbearable. One surgery that can be done is surgery to remove the damaged veins, so they are no longer an issue. Removing the uterus and ovaries may also help with pelvic pain. Ovaries make hormones, which may be the cause of pelvic congestion syndrome. This surgery would only be recommended in dire situations or for patients who need their ovaries and uterus removed for other medical reasons.
Adding routine exercise to your week maintains blood flow and decreases the pooling of fluid in the pelvic area. This may help alleviate some of the pain you feel throughout the day. Try to work out earlier in the day before the pain compounds.
Making changes to your diet may also minimize pelvic pain that is exacerbated by constipation. Drinking plenty of fluids and eating a high fiber diet rich in whole grains, beans, and legumes reduces constipation.
Some natural supplements that may help you feel better if you want to avoid medical intervention. Many fruits have bioflavonoids, in the form of rutin and hesperidin, which help strengthen blood vessels and prevent them from leaking. Oligomeric proanthocyanidins have antioxidant properties that maintain the strength and tone of veins; these nutrients are found in berries and other fruits.
Don’t live with chronic pelvic pain. Make an appointment to see your doctor and find the best way to treat the ache in your lower abdomen so you can spend your days pain-free.