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What to do when you're diagnosed with pelvic congestion syndrome

October 11, 2022

If you are diagnosed with pelvic congestion syndrome, a vascular surgeon in Fayetteville, NC, can offer treatment options. At Champion Heart and Vascular Center, we provide treatment options for women with pelvic congestion syndrome and more. 

Pelvic congestion syndrome is a disease affecting women of reproductive age who have had children and menopausal women. Though there is uncertainty about the causes of this condition, most experts believe excessive estrogen production causes the blood vessels in the pelvic region to dilate. As a result, these blood vessels expand and move closer to the skin's surface, like varicose veins.

The symptoms of pelvic congestion syndrome.

The signs of this condition include a dull pain in the pelvic region that lasts for more than six months. This discomfort is similar to pain related to pregnancy or the menstrual cycle. However, it is ongoing with pelvic congestion syndrome, and it does not improve when you change posture. In fact, the ache can become more intense after exercise, during sex, when you menstruate, or if you stand for long periods.

Another common symptom of pelvic congestion syndrome is enlarged veins around the pelvis and inner thighs. Finally, in severe cases, women may develop incontinence or irritable bowel syndrome.

How is pelvic congestion syndrome diagnosed?

  1. Doctors usually discover pelvic congestion syndrome when patients complain of consistent pain. Then, they will usually examine the patient to rule out other causes. They typically look for varicose veins around the thigh and vaginal areas.
  2. In most cases, doctors will also send you for urine, blood, and stool tests to rule out bacterial or systemic infections, cancers, and sexually transmitted diseases.
  3. If these tests are negative, the doctor will order an ultrasound to rule out pelvic mass and also to show the state of blood vessels in the pelvic region. Alternatively, a CT scan or MRI can diagnose enlarged blood vessels over the uterus and ovaries.
  4. The most definitive and accurate diagnostic tool for pelvic congestion syndrome is venography. It is a minimally invasive procedure involving the injection of an iodine-based dye into the vein. The dye allows for detailed x-rays that show the position and size of the veins.

Treatment options and recovery after treatment

Depending on the severity of the pain and the damage to the veins, the doctor can take the following treatment options. Here is what to expect after you receive a pelvic congestion syndrome diagnosis.

  1. The first step is typically a pain relief prescription. Medication can lessen the discomfort while you work on additional treatment options.
  2. Doctors may also suggest abstaining from sex, limiting exercise, and avoiding standing for long periods while you wait for more permanent treatments.
  3. Doctors may also prescribe hormone treatments. Gonadotropins are a common option. This hormone can stop the function of the ovaries and eliminate symptoms for some mild cases of pelvic congestion syndrome.
  4. The doctor can also treat chronic pelvic syndrome with a minimally invasive procedure that targets the pelvic region veins. As vascular surgeons in Fayetteville, NC, we can offer this treatment, known as embolization, to patients not cured by medication alone. The procedure works by putting a chemical agent or a wire to block problematic veins.
  5. In the most severe cases, the partial or total removal of the uterus can serve as a permanent solution.

If you undergo a surgical procedure, you will need to set aside some time for recovery. Recovery after embolization involves two or three days of full rest followed by a week or so of light activity before you can resume your normal life.

At Champion Heart and Vascular Center, we can provide guidance to help you with the recovery process. Visit our website to find out more about our services, or fill out our appointment request form to see one of our specialists. 

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