Pelvic Congestion Syndrome pain is hard to treat. Here are 20 ways to relieve PCS pain — most are natural, some aren’t. I call it The Pelvic Congestion Syndrome Pain Management Starter Pack. There are sure to be some PCS pain relievers here you haven’t tried!
UPDATE! In September 2019, Professor Mark Whiteley published the first ever book solely on the diagnosis and treatment of PCS. I highly encourage you to get a copy and read it — to better understand your body, your pain, and most importantly, how to properly diagnose and treat Pelvic Congestion Syndrome.
UPDATE! Read about my full recovery from PCS following pelvic vein embolization at The Whitelely Clinic!
So, you’ve been diagnosed with Pelvic Congestion Syndrome (PCS), huh?
First, I’m really super sorry. I know the pain you’re in — physically, mentally, and emotionally. And, there’s just nothing else I can say except, it sucks, dude.
Chances are, you’ve been on a long, hard journey — looking for answers and coming up empty over and over again.
If you’re new to PCS, I’ve written a comprehensive post that I wish had existed when I first learned I had this condition: So, You’ve Been Diagnosed With PCS? Here’s What You Need To Know.
Often, doctors dismiss our concerns and pain, telling us it’s all in our heads or that we need to see a psychiatrist. They blame our hormones, our age, a plethora of other things without taking us seriously or, at the very least, running proper diagnostic tests to check.
You’d think they’d want to prove us wrong, if they’re so dead-set on telling us we’re “just hormonal”.
Pelvic congestion syndrome is one of those diseases that you get diagnosed with after all sorts of other diseases have been ruled out. Other diseases like…
- irritable bowel syndrome
- ovarian cysts and/or polycystic ovarian syndrome
- colon cancer
- uterine prolapse
- diseases/conditions of the bladder, kidneys, and urethra
- and I could go on, but you probably already know what’s been ruled out for you…
And you may have PCS as a result of scary compressions like Nutcracker Syndrome or May-Thurner Syndrome or something else.
This disease is so misunderstood, mis- and under-diagnosed and truly a pain in the ass. Or vulva. Or side. 😉
Please get a copy of Pelvic Congestion Syndrome: Chronic Pelvic Pain & Pelvic Venous Disorders by Professor Mark Whiteley — the first book ever published solely on the education, diagnosis, and treatment of PCS.
Chronic Pain + Waiting = Losing Your Ever-Loving Mind
Pelvic Congestion Syndrome is a chronic pain condition with no known causes and no known cures. Procedures like pelvic vein embolization can alleviate pain — with up to 85% success rate.
Yet, getting to the point of that procedure (or others if you choose laparoscopy or hysterectomy) is a long, hard journey on its own. And, it requires a lot of waiting.
Waiting for appointments, waiting for referrals, waiting for procedures to be scheduled, even waiting for your pain to worsen.
And in all that waiting, you’re waiting in pain.
Perhaps you’ve been unable to work or take care of your responsibilities around your house or even care for your children.
Perhaps your sex life is now non-existent. Or, you’re experiencing anxiety, depression, mood swings, or thoughts of suicide.
Hey, been there. Done that. I understand.
So, I’ve decided to do what no one else on the Internet has done: put together The Pelvic Congestion Syndrome Pain Management Starter Pack.
While you wait, you can experiment with these methods for pelvic congestion pain relief.
And by the way, make sure you know how to talk to your doctors to advocate for yourself. Read 11 Questions to Ask Your Doctor Before Treating PCS.
The Pelvic Congestion Syndrome Pain Management Starter Pack
These are things that have worked for me and others who have PCS.
I’ve asked women from all over the world to share what’s worked for them, and now I’m sharing it with you.
Obviously, I’m a natural-minded kinda girl, so most of these are natural remedies.
Over-the-counter meds, like ibuprofen and Tylenol, work for some people, so I’m listing them here, too. Many women need strong narcotics or prescription pain-relievers, which is between them and their doctors. However, I’m not going to touch on that here because it’s waaaaaay outside my wheelhouse.
My long-time readers may find it surprising that I’m even listing things like Advil or Tylenol, and I understand that.
Until you’ve lived with chronic pain for weeks or months or even years, you don’t get it.
So, you do you, ok? Use what resonates. Discard the rest. 🙂
If you have PCS and would like to add what has been beneficial to relieve your pain to the list, let me know in the comments!
Here are many ways to manage pelvic congestion syndrome pain. Feel free to try some or all of these.
And, if you’re ever unsure of a remedy, always check with your doctor. 🙂
#1 — Hot and/or Cold
Some women swear by ice; others love their heat.
I’m a heat girl and am never far from my favorite heating pad. It stays plugged in by my bed at all times, and I frequently use it during the day or at night while sleeping.
Sometimes, I also prefer a wet heat. For that, I love my hot water bottle. I fill it with super hot — not boiling — water from my electric tea kettle and wrap it in a towel. It actually stays hot all night long!
One day, I’ll get a hot water bottle that has a cute cover like this and won’t need the towel.
If you’re using ice, try these reusable gel packs that will form to your body. Having 2 means you can alternate them when one isn’t cold anymore.
You can also add ice + cold water to the hot water bottles and wrap in a towel if it’s too cold for you.
#2 — Constitutional Hydrotherapy
This is a fairly simple and effective PCS pain reliever as it actually addresses circulation. It does help to have a spouse or partner handy.
You’ll need two hand towels (like the kind you use to dry your hands in your bathroom).
First, get one wet with SUPER hot water, as hot as you can stand it. Lay it over your chest and abdomen and cover up with a blanket. Leave it in place for 5 minutes or until it is no longer hot.
Here’s where a partner comes in…
Have your partner get the second towel wet with SUPER cold water, as cold as possible. Remove the first, hot towel and replace it with the cold one.
Cover up with the blanket, as you do not want to actually be cold. Leave for 5 to 10 minutes.
Turn over, repeat the whole thing while laying on your stomach.
#3 — Shower Hydrotherapy
This is similar to Constitutional Hydrotherapy described above, but can be done more quickly and while in the shower.
At the end of your shower, run the water as hot as you can stand it over the area of your pain. Do this for 15 to 20 seconds, but DO NOT BURN YOURSELF.
Then, switch the water to all the way on cold and run it over the area of your pain for as long as you can handle it.
With both Constitutional Hydrotherapy and Shower Hydrotherapy, the heat opens the veins and then the cold quickly causes the veins to contract and expel the congested blood.
#4 — Arvigo Techniques of Mayan Abdominal Therapy
Based on the ancient teachings of Maya medicine, and refined by Dr. Rosita Arvigo of Belize, the Arvigo Techniques of Maya Abdominal Therapy are a wonderful way to enhance circulation in the abdomen and pelvic regions of the body.
ATMAT combines modern science with ancient wisdom to address both digestive and reproductive ailments in men and women. The benefits of ATMAT for women include:
- realignment of tilted or prolapsed bladder or uterus
- relieves symptoms of endometriosis
- aids in preventing recurrent bladder or yeast infections
- assists with shorter, easier labors
- alleviates symptoms of IBS and Crohn’s disease
- regulates irregular menstrual cycles and helps relieve pain of painful menstruation
- alleviates pain of pelvic congestion
You can look for a practitioner near you, who will most likely be certified in either acupuncture or Traditional Chinese Medicine or both.
There are also YouTube videos where you can learn some of these techniques for yourself.
#5 — Chiropractic Adjustments
Our family have always been fans of chiropractic! Chiropractors get things unstuck, right?
I’ve spoken with my own chiropractor, Dr. Tim Chrisman at Dallas Whole Health. He’s a damn good chiropractor and has made some amazing things happen in my body. Yet, there are no specific adjustments for pelvic congestion syndrome.
That’s not to say chiropractic adjustments can’t or won’t relieve pelvic congestion pain!
Dr. Tim says:
Any chiropractic adjustment that helps any part of the body function better could have an effect on pelvic congestion and improve it. There are no adjustments that are specific for pelvic congestion. There are so many unknowns about that diagnosis. An atlas adjustment could help just as much as a pelvic one in some cases.
Even if you find chiropractic to be ineffective for your pelvic congestion pain management, regular adjustments can only benefit the rest of you and your overall health!
#6 — Castor Oil/Castor Oil Packs
Castor oil is an old-fashioned remedy that not many keep in their medicine cabinets nowadays. Castor oil reduces inflammation, stimulates lymphatic channels, and increases the efficiency of circulation in your entire pelvis (source).
Castor oil can simply be applied to the skin — rub a dime- to quarter-sized amount over your abdomen, pelvis, flanks, tops of your legs, even the vulva and labia.
If you really want to gain the benefits of castor oil for pain relief and improved pelvic circulation, go with a castor oil pack.
Rub or use castor oil packs:
- directly over the liver on the right side to help with detoxification of excess hormones
- on your abdomen, over the colon, or over the stomach to ease constipation/pelvic pain
- on the lower abdomen to ease pain from pelvic congestion, menstrual cramps, endometriosis pain, ovarian cysts, and other gynecological pain issues
While castor oil/packs are great on their own, you can add any of the essential oils to your castor oil that are mentioned in the next section.
#7 — Essential Oils + Arnica Gel
You’re going to want to use both pain-relieving essential oils AND oils that promote good circulation.
Use Arnica Gel as the “carrier”. (Typically oils like fractionated coconut oil, jojoba oil, and olive oil are used as carriers, but in this instance you’re going to use a homeopathic pain-relieving gel as your carrier.)
Mix one or any combination of these essential oils with the Arnica Gel:
Save 10% on the essential oils I use and love from Spark Naturals with my discount code NOURISHING10 + get free shipping on all orders of $25 or more!
Use one to two drops of one or a combination of oils mixed in the Arnica Gel and rub on the abdomen, lower back, left flank, and/or tops of legs — wherever you feel the pain.
If pain is in the labia and/or vulva region, it’s best to use less essential oil — and don’t use peppermint — since these areas are more sensitive.
#8 — Magnesium Citrate
Magnesium citrate is the calming, anti-stress mineral.
Constipation tends to be a side effect of pelvic congestion syndrome, and mag citrate is very effective at helping us to “go”! My PCS pain is definitely worse if I am constipated, so I do everything I can to stay regular.
Mag citrate also relaxes muscles and relieve anxiety which can then help relieve pain.
How much to use?
Start with the minimum dosage (2 teaspoons) and work your way up to bowel tolerance (ie. until it gives you the runs), then go back down to the dose before your bowels were too loose.
#9 — Ibuprofen & NSAIDs (& other pain meds)
Many women swear by large doses — 600 to 800 mg — of ibuprofen for PCS pain relief. I have tried over-the-counter Advil and Tylenol, and it hasn’t helped my pain.
But remember, every woman is different!
If you plan on taking NSAIDs regularly, please read my friend Megan’s post: 10 Ways to Protect Your Gut if You Have to Take NSAIDs.
Finally, when it comes to your pain tolerance and how allopathic or natural you want to be, prescription pain medications aren’t out of the question. Many women want or need these medications. There is no judgment for using them!
Of course, that is a decision only you can make and one you should discuss with your healthcare provider.
#10 — Pain Patches
Some women put one of these pain patches on their lower backs, hips, or sides first thing in the morning to relieve pain during the day when they have to be active.
The active ingredients are fairly natural: camphor, menthol, and methyl salicylate. The inactive ingredients include mineral oil, terpene resin, and other non-natural things.
#11 — CBD/Cannabis
Depending on your state’s laws, you can qualify for medical marijuana for pain management. This is definitely something to speak with your doctor about.
Many women in the PCS Facebook support groups are managing their pain with medical marijuana — and I say good for them!
If you don’t live in a legal medical marijuana state or want to avoid THC, CBD products can be amazing.
I have used my MedTerra Rapid Cooling CBD Cream on my abdomen, lower back, and hip. (Use my code NOURISHING to save 10% on your order!)
Even more effective: Prime My Body CBD Oil.
CBD/Cannabis also helps with anxiety — which, unfortunately, often accompanies PCS.
Anxiety is definitely worse on days when the pain is worse. Focusing on the pain makes the anxiety worse, and so it goes in a vicious cycle.
#12 — CranioSacral Massage for Pelvic Congestion Syndrome
After my first craniosacral massage, I felt my left side pain decrease by about 60%! Seriously, it was AMAZING. And, without telling her the PCS was on my left side, she said she could clearly tell that things on my left side were congested!
I got another cranio-sacral massage a few days later, and went 4 or 5 days with no pain at all.
This form of massage definitely focuses on the pelvic region (sacrum). It releases restrictions in the craniosacral system to improve nervous system function.
When helping individuals with pelvic floor disorders, it is important to look not just at the physical symptoms, but also at the emotional symptoms CranioSacral Therapy can help the body to release somatoemotional experiences (from life experiences or trauma, where emotional symptoms that the body holds on to can create physical symptoms) that may be limiting progress and/or causing an individual to be stuck in a pain cycle. Working on connecting within, releasing these emotional experiences, and on balancing the mind, body, and spirit can also assist with improving pelvic floor disorders. (Source.)
#13 — Reiki for Pelvic Congestion Syndrome Pain Management/Healing
Everything is energy, and reiki helps to move stuck energy.
Originating in Japan in the 1920s, reiki is extremely relaxing and meditative, and that in and of itself can be pain-relieving. Even for skeptics who say it’s just a placebo effect, it’s been proven that positive thinking is healing. Reiki is about positive energy flowing, which is also healing.
But please don’t be turned off by that because you think it’s woo-woo. In fact, reiki is even beginning to be used in operating rooms in conventional hospitals (source).
With pelvic congestion, there is literally stuck energy — or stuck blood in our veins.
In alternative medicine, reiki is simply a means by which healing energy is transferred from the practitioner to the patient/client for relief from fatigue, stress, and pain.
The physiological responses/benefits that occur from Reiki include its effect on the alpha and theta states for relaxation (meditative); stress reduction, healing and mental changes; activation of the parasympathetic nervous system (our rest-and-restore system); lower heart rate, lower pulse rate and slower breathing; and an overall nudging toward homeostasis. Clients report they experience shifts toward a positive mental attitude and toward feeling happier, offering them hope and a positive outlook. These are hallmarks of Reiki that we know exist—they’re real, measurable, and the reason people seek Reiki for physical and mental issues. (Source.)
My husband is a certified master reiki healer and received his training and certification just for me. 🙂
He wanted to help me, and so on his own, he learned and got certified. Now, I have a reiki session every night before bed — and I am 1,000% certain it’s why my pain has been as manageable as it has.
It also helps me sleep better! Win-win!
#14 — Premium UltraPure Turmeric Curcumin with BioPerine
It’s nothing new that turmeric is a pain-relieving superfood, thanks to its high curcumin content.
In fact, I have a drink that I whip up if I ever experience bad menstrual cramps that works like all-natural Advil — Best Period Drink Ever. Actually, give that drink a try for pelvic congestion pain relief!
But, if you need something stronger (and don’t want to get out your juicer every time you’re in pain), try Premium UltraPure Turmeric Curcumin with BioPerine.
BioPerine is black pepper with curcumin, so the anti-inflammatory and pain-relieving qualities are more bioavailable. This supplement uses only pure and raw ingredients and is doctor-formulated and third party-tested.
#15 — Pelvic Floor Physical Therapy
I have already begun 12 weeks of pelvic floor physical therapy — and at the time of publication of this post, I’m 2 sessions in.
There are currently no studies on whether pelvic floor PT helps PCS. Although, I have an online friend who has alleviated nearly all of her PCS pain through an anti-inflammatory diet, pelvic floor PT, and several of the natural pelvic congestion syndrome pain remedies I’ve listed here.
Anecdotally, I have read many women’s success stories of relieving their pelvic congestion pain with a combination of several of the methods mentioned above with pelvic floor PT.
My physical therapist is very optimistic that pelvic floor PT will help relieve my PCS pain (assuming I don’t have other compressions like Nutcracker Syndrome).
According to my own gynocologist, EVERY WOMAN CAN BENEFIT FROM PELVIC FLOOR PHYSICAL THERAPY. Ask your gyno or certified nurse midwife the next time you’re in for your regular check-up!
Update: In February 2020, after 9 months of pelvic floor physical therapy, I not only recovered fully from PCS, I also recovered fully from pelvic floor dysfunction!
#16 — V2 Supporter
Since pelvic congestion syndrome often involves a feeling of heaviness in the pelvis, accompanied by pain, this can be worn under clothing to provide support.
The It’s You Babe V2 Supporter is safe and effective compression therapy.
Often, women with PCS have other pelvic issues, such as uterine or bladder prolapses, and this device is safe for those as well.
One woman on Facebook said, “My pelvic floor physical therapist recommended a V2 Supporter and it has given me so much relief! It’s a funny-looking garment, but it makes a huge difference in the pressure I feel!”
#17 — Infrared Sauna
An infrared sauna brings gentle, but powerful healing and relief to pelvic congestion sufferers.
According to Dr. Lawrence Wilson:
This method, which is part of every development program, is slow, but very helpful as it brings deep, penetrating infrared heat to this area. This is excellent to helps unlock and heal tense and toxic muscle tissue, along with tense and toxic ligaments, tendons and other pelvic tissues. (Source.)
Infrared saunas have numerous benefits, including relief from menstrual pain, cardiovascular benefits, detoxification, weight loss, wound healing, and pain relief.
Infrared heat therapy promotes cardiovascular conditioning in a manner similar to that of aerobic activity with minimal exertion. Numerous studies have shown that the cardiovascular benefits associated with infrared therapy are numerous and varied. They include improved circulation, lower blood pressure, enhanced vascular function and lower risk of heart-related disease. (Source.)
Adding an infrared sauna to your pelvic congestion pain management protocol is a big decision as these devices are not cheap.
One affordable option is a portable infrared sauna — that looks like a tent and zips around you. This sauna takes up less space and can be taken with you if you’re traveling.
If you’re looking to make an infrared sauna a big part of your life — perhaps something the whole family can use — consider investing in a larger, wooden, low EMF infrared sauna.
Personally, I have used a friend’s permanent, wooden infrared sauna and have experienced pain relief and detoxification, deeper sleep, and overall better health. As soon as we are able, we plan to add one to our home.
#18 — Natural Hormone Therapies & Herbs
One of the reasons many doctors start with birth control pills or other hormonal therapies for PCS pain relief is because excess estrogen does dilate blood veins.
However, many studies reveal that hormone therapy is not the best way to treat PCS. Plus, many women — myself included — want to avoid hormone therapy because they mess with so much of our bodies, minds, emotions, and other hormones.
Once again, if you’re going to add any sort of hormone therapy to your pain management, please do speak with your doctor or at the very least a naturopath first. You don’t want to mess up your hormones!
Some herbs worth researching to use as tinctures and/or teas:
- Red raspberry leaf
- Butcher’s broom
- Gotu kola
- Horse chestnut
- Chaste tree berry (Vitex)
I’ll let you do your own research on all of those. However, I am trying Vitex to help regulate excess estrogen.
I can tell I have excess estrogen because, for the past 6 months, I have gotten a painful breast cyst/fibroid shortly after ovulating that disappears when my cycle starts.
Since I am currently (as of 4/2019) on prescription medications for anxiety and depression, we are hesitant to incorporate other herbs into my protocol. Many herbs are contraindicated for use with certain prescription medications.
Update: As of February 2020, I am off of all prescription medications!
Again, this is why you should speak to your healthcare provider when considering hormone therapy — natural or otherwise — and herbs for natural pelvic congestion syndrome pain management.
#19 — Eat Gut-Healing Foods/Eliminate Processed Foods
Many woman suffering from PCS also have some serious digestive issues, including IBS.
This is just another way you can really support your body in the best way possible.
Perhaps you’re a drive-thru mom who relies on boxed and canned food, frozen meals, and toaster waffles to feed your family.
Or, you’re on the flip side — an all-organic/grass-fed woman who juices celery, takes a variety of health-promoting supplements, and even grows some of your own food.
Or, maybe you’re somewhere in between. 🙂
Wherever you find your diet, now that you have PCS, it’s a good idea to re-evaluate. Foods can often trigger some of the symptoms that make PCS worse. And other foods, like gut-healing foods, can — over time — heal the gut and relieve PCS pain.
The top gut health-promoting foods you need to add to your diet if you haven’t already:
- homemade bone broth or organic bone broth powder (Use my coupon code ALLTHETHINGS to save 10% on my favorite organic bone broth protein powder!)
- cooked, organic vegetables — not canned, but cooked as in blended soups, roasted veggies, steamed veggies, etc.
- fermented foods and/or drinks — these can be purchased or made at home
- cultured dairy — plain yogurt, kefir, cultured cream cheese — if dairy is tolerated
- healthy fats — butter, avocado oil, coconut oil, grass-fed tallow and lard, MCT oil, ghee, extra virgin olive oil (Use my coupon code ALLTHETHINGS to save 10% on coconut oil and MCT oil! Save 25% on your first order with Thrive Market!)
And the foods you should eliminate from you diet because they are not whole foods or promoting a healthy gut or body:
- sugar — from processed foods, sodas, breakfast cereals, ice cream, etc.
- boxed foods with additives — food coloring/flavoring, preservatives, MSG, and other additives
- processed/ultra-pasteurized/non-organic dairy products
- foods high in phytic acid — unprepared beans, quinoa, and rice, unsoaked nuts and seeds — it may be worth considering a grain-free or AIP diet for a while to see if your symptoms improve.
- processed foods in general
If a diet overhaul seems unreasonable or overwhelming, I get it, Momma.
All of the recipes on this site are gluten-free and made with whole foods.
You can also check out these posts: 16 Real Food Ingredient Swaps To Instantly Add Nutrition To Your Life and 12 MORE Real Food Ingredient Swaps.
#20 — Supplements That Promote Gut Health
Again, whether you’re a drive-thru momma or a health nut, evaluating your current supplements is worth it to see how PCS pain responds.
Some general supplements that promote gut health are:
- PROBIOTICS. Everyone needs them! I take a combination of 3 probiotics: Just Thrive, Catie’s Whole Food ProFlora, and FemEcology Vitanica.
- N-Acetyl L-Cysteine taken with Vitamin C on an empty stomach (I also get NAC from Thrive Market.)
- L-glutamine (I also get L-glutamine from Thrive Market.)
- grass-fed gelatin <– my coupon code ALLTHETHINGS will get you 10% off!
- grass-fed collagen <– my coupon code ALLTHETHINGS will get you 10% off!
- slippery elm bark
I’m not recommending that you immediately go out and buy all these supplements. The ones I started with were probiotics, collagen, and gelatin.
But, I quickly figured out that my body needed the NAC, Vitamin C, and l-glutamine. My friend Megan at EatBeautiful has a great article on taking Vitamin C with collagen to promote gut health.
Hope for Better Days Ahead
I was diagnosed with PCS by accident — through a CT scan that was checking for kidney stones. I was referred to gynecology and urology. The gyno referred me to an interventional radiologist, and miraculously, I ended up at The Whitlely Clinic in London, UK, for pelvic vein embolization!
These pain management techniques and suggestions for PCS are just that — suggestions. And hopefully, you’re pursuing the right treatment plan for you and these ideas help you achieve relief and some quality of life during all that waiting, referrals, appointments, waiting, and more waiting.
As you can tell, it takes a while to get through this process — hence why I have put together this resource for pelvic congestion syndrome pain management and relief — using both natural and allopathic remedies!
There’s no sense in suffering any more than you already have been, so I hope these methods of pelvic congestion pain management are helpful and provide you some comfort, relief, and maybe even a sliver of hope that better days are ahead.
- grass-fed collagen
- grass-fed gelatin
- organic chicken bone broth powder
- MCT oil
- Catie’s Whole Food ProFlora probiotics
- N-Acetyl L-Cysteine (NAC)
- Arnica Gel
Do you have pelvic congestion syndrome or another chronic pelvic pain condition? What has brought you the most pain relief?
This post is intended for informational purposes only and is not a substitute for the advice and care of a qualified medical professional of your choice. I’ve done enough research that I feel I should have letters behind my name, but alas, I do not. So please do your own research and consult your doctor(s) when making decisions about your health.