Most adults have at least heard of varicose veins. They are the thick, ropy, swollen veins that you can see on the thighs, calves, or other areas of the legs. The legs happened to be the most common area to develop these poorly-functioning veins, but that does not mean this is the only place these uncomfortable veins can develop. Varicose veins may also develop in the pelvic region. Here, we discuss what this problem is, how it may manifest, and what we may do to resolve symptoms.
Pelvic Varicose Veins: What Are They?
Varicose veins are bulging vessels that are no longer functioning properly. This is consistent regardless of where they develop. Pelvic varicose veins are also referred to as pelvic congestion. These poorly-functioning veins may be in the buttocks, thighs, lower abdomen, or in the genital area. Sometimes, these varicose veins cause no symptoms at all. They may also be invisible, unlike most of the varicose veins we see on the legs.
Symptoms of pelvic varicose veins include:
- Back pain
- Stress incontinence
- Vaginal discharge
- Ovarian changes
- Thick endometrium
- Enlarged uterus
- Mood swings
- Abdominal bloating
- Severe menstrual cramps
According to research, nearly one-third of women experience recurrent or persistent pelvic pain in their lifetime. Pelvic varicose veins often cause pain that feels like a dull ache. This is often worse at the end of the day or after long periods of standing. Some patients (usually women) experience pelvic pain during or after sexual intercourse or just before menstruation.
Diagnosis and Treatment
Pelvic pain can occur for a variety of reasons. A diagnostic examination with appropriate imaging is necessary to achieve an accurate diagnosis. We often perform a Doppler ultrasound to obtain high-quality images of the various vessels and structures in the pelvic region. The most detailed test, though, is a CT venogram with contrast dye. This causes blood vessels to show up more clearly than they would on x-rays.
If the examination and imaging indicate the presence of pelvic varicose veins, embolization can be performed. This minimally-invasive procedure may involve the insertion of a sclerosing agent or small coil to cause the vein to collapse and close. The procedure is performed with local anesthesia and IV sedation to maintain comfort.
Are you experiencing persistent, unexplained pelvic pain? Call our office in Laurel, MD at (855) 803-MIVC to discuss diagnosis and treatment options.