Can Pelvic Congestion Syndrome Cause Weight Gain?

Pelvic Congestion Syndrome

Are you an adult woman under 45 years? Have you had multiple pregnancies? 

Do you often experience chronic pelvic pain?

If you answered yes to any of these questions, be extra careful of getting pelvic congestion syndrome (PCS).

According to John Hopkins Medicine, an estimate of one-third of all women will experience chronic pelvic pain associated with PCS during their lifetime. 

Chronic pain from PCS occurs when there is blood accumulation, dilation, and congestion in your pelvic veins (also known as pelvic varicose veins). 

[Read: Varicose Veins: Managing Symptoms]

Most women suffering from PCS are under 45 years old and have had multiple pregnancies. 

Now, what are the symptoms, causes, and side effects of pelvic congestion syndrome? Can it cause weight gain? Read on to find out!

Pelvic Congestion Syndrome: Causes, Risks, Symptoms

Pelvic congestion syndrome (pelvic venous congestion syndrome) is a chronic condition that causes pain in the lower torso (pelvic region). 

The condition causes painful, swollen, and bulging ovarian and pelvic veins, also known as pelvic varicose veins. 

The enlarged vein causes dizziness and pain when you are sexually active (dyspareunia), heavy lifting, or standing. The pain can quickly progress to a sharp, throbbing sensation that’s only relieved when you lie down.

Chronic pain can last six months or more. Although it’s not related to a woman’s menstrual cycle, it can become more severe during her period.

Causes

Normal veins have blood flowing from the pelvis to the heart in the ovarian and ovarian veins. Valves within the vein prevent blood from flowing backward.

If the ovarian vein valve becomes damaged or weak, blood can’t flow efficiently from the vein to the heart. This causes blood to backflow (reflux) and pool in the vein, leading to congestion and swelling. The result? Chronic pain, heaviness, and pelvic varicose veins.

Many events may damage the pelvic veins, including:

  • Weight gain
  • Hormonal fluctuations
  • Multiple pregnancies

Damaged pelvic veins can cause swelling of surrounding organs such as the bladder, intestines, and rectum. Majority of women who are affected by PCS ages between 20 and 45 with multiple pregnancies.

During pregnancy, hormones fluctuate, pelvic anatomy changes, and the volume of blood and estrogen increases. These conditions can weaken the walls of the blood vessels. 

Risks

  • A woman who is less than 45 years old during her childbearing age
  • Multiple previous pregnancies (up to 2 or more)
  • Hormonal Imbalance (dysfunction and excess)
  • Retroverted uterus (also known as “tipped”)
  • Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS)
  • The fullness of leg veins
  • Vaginal, ovarian, and pelvic varicose veins

Symptoms

Woman with Pelvic Congestion Syndrome

Pelvic congestion syndrome is often confused with menstrual discomfort. However, the signs of PCS usually do not appear until a woman gets pregnant.

The condition worsens during subsequent pregnancies, as the ovarian veins begin to dilate and enlarge to accommodate an increased pelvic blood flow. PCS can last up to six months.

The severity of pain can vary greatly from one person to another. The main symptoms could include:

  • Chronic Pelvic Pain. The dragging pain and heaviness in the pelvis become more severe when you sit or stand, especially during menstruation. The majority of the pain associated with PCS disappears after you sleep at night.
  • Lumbago. The pain in the lower back and muscles.
  • Chronic pain in the hips, abdomen, and buttocks.
  • Irritable bowel that causes persistent abdominal pain and alternating periods with diarrhea or constipation.
  • Irritable bladder with possible stress incontinence.
  • Dyspareunia. Pain or discomfort after or during sexual intercourse.
  • Vaginal swelling or vulvae swelling
  • Abdominal or pelvic tenderness
  • Pelvic varicose veins during pregnancy. Bulging veins that surround the vulva, vagina, or thighs.
  • Vaginal discharge that’s abnormally clear or watery
  • Dysmenorrhea or painful periods
  • Abnormal menstrual bleeding
  • Fatigue and lethargy
  • Increased urination
  • Mood swings (anxiety, depression, and/or physical worries).
  • Headaches
  • Bloating in the abdomen

[Read: Varicose Veins: Why Standing & Sitting Are So Bad For You (And What To Do About It)]

Diagnosis and Treatment

How Is Pelvic Congestion Syndrome Diagnosed?

Ultrasound test for Pelvic Congestion Syndrome

Diagnosing pelvic congestion syndrome is complicated because many women, especially those who have children, show enlarged pelvic blood vessels in a standard ultrasound or MRI. 

PCS diagnosis is only given to women with enlarged pelvic veins or chronic pelvic pain. A thorough examination of the patient’s medical history, symptoms, and pain duration is necessary to diagnose the problem. 

To diagnose PCS, the patient must have experienced pain for at least 6 months. 

These tests will help the doctor identify dilated pelvic veins or vaginal varicose veins and determine if you have pelvic congestion syndrome:

  • Blood tests
  • MRI
  • Transvaginal and pelvic ultrasound
  • CT scan
  • Diagnostic laparoscopy
  • Pelvic venography

Pelvic Congestion Syndrome Treatment

Your doctor may recommend additional diagnostic tests depending on the severity and nature of your pain.

Once PCS is confirmed, an interventional radiologist can perform an ovarian vein embolization. 

Ovarian Vein Embolization involves placing a small catheter into the enlarged pelvic veins through a tiny incision using x-ray guidance. It’s a minimally invasive procedure that can relieve pain and other symptoms. 

[For detailed treatment information, read: Vein Specialist Explains Pelvic Congestion Syndrome Treatment]

FAQs about Pelvic Congestion Syndrome

Can pelvic congestion syndrome cause weight gain?

PCS doesn’t usually cause weight gain. Enlargement of the pelvic veins happens when there is retained blood, which may seem like you’ve gained weight.

Does pelvic congestion cause bloating?

Bloating isn’t a common symptom, but some PCS patients may experience it. This symptom is usually associated with menstruation, such as fibroids or endometriosis.

Can pelvic congestion cause bowel problems?

Yes, PCS irritates the bowel and results in recurrent abdominal pain, constipation, and diarrhea.

Does pelvic congestion cause frequent urination?

Dilated pelvic veins can cause bladder irritation, leading to an urge to urinate more frequently.

Get Expert Advice

Talk to your doctor if you suspect you may have PCS. The uncomfortable symptoms of this complex medical condition can adversely affect your quality of life. 

PCS is treatable through minimally invasive methods with minimal downtime. Just make sure to seek medical attention soon as you get the signs.

Vascular and Interventional Specialists of Prescott (VISP) can help you if you have a medical problem such as pelvic congestion syndrome, chronic pain, or varicose veins.

We offer top-quality care and minimally invasive treatments for different vascular issues with minimal downtime.

Contact us if you’ve got any questions or if you need a consultation. Vascular and Interventional Specialty of Prescott (VISP), can be reached at (928) 771-847.