Pelvic congestion syndrome

Enlarged veins in the pelvic or ovarian regions—similar to varicose veins in the legs


  • Chronic (long-lasting or recurring often), dull, aching pain in the lower abdomen and lower back
  • Increased pain occurs:
    • After sexual intercourse
    • During menstrual periods
    • When tired or when standing for long periods of time
    • When pregnant
  • Irritable bladder
  • Abnormal menstrual bleeding
  • Vaginal discharge
  • Varicose veins on vulva, buttocks, or thighs

Risks factors for pelvic congestion syndrome

  • Gender (women are most likely to experience pelvic congestion syndrome)
  • Two or more pregnancies
  • Polycystic ovaries
  • Hormonal problems


Once your doctor has ruled out inflammation or other possible causes for pelvic pain, several tests are available to diagnose pelvic congestion syndrome:

  • Pelvic venography—injecting a contrast dye into veins in the pelvic region so they are visible by X-ray
  • MRI
  • Pelvic or transvaginal ultrasound

Treatment for pelvic congestion syndrome

Pelvic venous embolization:

  • Minimally invasive, image-guided outpatient procedure
  • A thin catheter is inserted in the groin and guided (using X-ray) to the enlarged vein. A chemical solution or substance is inserted to close the vein (similar to sclerotherapy).
Last reviewed: 
October 2016

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