Most women with chronic pelvic pain never imagine that their symptoms could be caused by a vein problem. But a vein condition called pelvic congestion syndrome causes 30-40% of all cases of chronic pelvic pain. Kenneth Spearman, MD, at Central Coast Vein & Vascular has extensive experience diagnosing and eliminating the vein problem, which in turn relieves severe chronic pelvic pain and other symptoms. To schedule an evaluation, call the office in Arroyo Grande, California, or use the online booking feature today.
Pelvic congestion syndrome, also called pelvic vein disease or pelvic venous insufficiency, occurs when ovarian veins become engorged with blood, just like varicose veins that develop in your legs.
The problem develops when faulty valves in the veins stop working. Normally, these valves keep blood moving through the veins toward your heart.
But when the valves fail, blood flows in the wrong direction and accumulates in the vein. As a result, the ovarian veins turn into enlarged and twisted varicose veins.
Your risk of developing pelvic congestion syndrome increases during pregnancy and after delivery. The veins widen to accommodate the increase in blood flow when you’re pregnant, which stretches and weakens the valves.
Chronic pelvic pain is the primary symptom of pelvic congestion syndrome. You may feel severe pain or a dull aching pain. The pain typically gets worse as the day goes on, when you’re standing, and before and after menstrual periods.
Additionally, pelvic congestion syndrome often causes pain during sexual intercourse. Some women also develop low back pain and leg pain.
Diagnostic imaging, such as duplex ultrasound, often identifies varicosities in the ovarian vein. However, the diagnosis of pelvic congestion syndrome is confirmed by performing a pelvic venogram.
A pelvic venogram is an X-ray that’s taken after Dr. Spearman injects a contrast dye through a catheter inserted in the pelvic veins. The contrast dye highlights the veins on the X-ray, allowing Dr. Spearman to diagnose varicosities in the ovarian veins.
Pelvic congestion syndrome is treated with an ovarian vein embolization. This is a minimally invasive outpatient procedure, so you can go home the same day.
During ovarian vein embolization, Dr. Spearman makes a tiny incision in your groin or wrist, inserts a small catheter, and uses real-time X-ray imaging to guide the catheter through your veins to the enlarged ovarian veins.
Once the catheter is in place, Dr. Spearman releases medications that seal the vein, making the vein walls collapse. Your body naturally reroutes the blood through healthy veins, which relieves your chronic pelvic pain.
After the catheter is removed, pressure is placed on the vein for a short time. Afterward, you can leave and get back to your daily activities.
If you struggle with chronic pelvic pain and want to learn if the problem is pelvic congestion syndrome, call Central Coast Vein & Vascular or schedule an appointment online.