Chronic pelvic pain is a very common problem in the United States, and accounts for 10-15% of referrals to gynecologists and pain clinics. Dozens of conditions can result in chronic pelvic pain. In many cases, the root cause is never discovered, despite numerous tests and operations. For some women, however, pelvic pain is caused by a condition known as pelvic congestion sydrome (PCS), which may go undiagnosed simply because physicians often fail to look for it.
Symptoms of pelvic congestion syndrome (PCS)
The painful symptoms typically worsen as the day goes on, especially for women who sit or stand all day, and then go away after a night of sleep. The pain can also be worse during or following intercourse, around menstrual periods, and after certain physical activities, such as bicycling or horseback riding. Symptoms frequently don't appear until a woman becomes pregnant and then they fail to resolve afterward.
Causes of pelvic congestion syndrome (PCS)
Pelvic congestion syndrome occurs when varicose veins develop around the ovaries, similar to varicose veins that occur in the legs. The valves in the veins no longer function normally, blood backs up, and the veins become engorged or "congested", which can be very painful. In men, a similar condition can causes varicose veins to form on the scrotum, which is known as a varicocele. In women, however, these varicose veins are internal. Rarely do veins appear on the vulva, thighs, or buttocks, which is why PCS is often missed.