An online survey of pelvic congestion support group members regarding comorbid symptoms and syndromes

Steven J. Smith, Michael Sichlau, Luke E. Sewall, B. Holly Smith, Brenda Chen, Neal Khurana, Peter C. Rowe

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objectives: Patients with pelvic congestion syndrome (PCS) often report overlapping somatic symptoms and syndromes. The objective of this study was to explore the prevalence of co-existing symptoms and self-reported syndrome diagnoses among women with PCS and to inform future research hypotheses. Methods: A brief online survey was offered to members of a PCS support group website. Responses were assessed for self-reported co-existing symptoms and formal diagnoses, including: chronic fatigue syndrome, fibromyalgia, postural tachycardia syndrome, irritable bowel syndrome, migraines, interstitial cystitis, and temporomandibular joint dysfunction. Results: Of a total of 6000 members, there were 398 respondents; 232 (59%) had not yet been treated for PCS. Among these, the most prevalent co-existing symptoms were as follows: severe fatigue (72%), dizziness (63%), IBS symptoms (61%), brain fog (33%), migraines (49%), polyuria or dysuria (41%), excessive sweating (31%), TMJ pain (31%), and loose skin or lax joints (18%). These are much higher than reported for the general female population. The most commonly self-reported comorbid syndrome diagnoses for the overall group of 398 were: irritable bowel syndrome (29%), fibromyalgia (13%), spinal nerve problems (18%), interstitial cystitis (10%), postural tachycardia syndrome (9%), hypertension (11%), chronic fatigue syndrome (10%), and Ehlers-Danlos syndrome (6%). Other than with hypertension, these rates are variably higher than in the general population. Conclusion: Several self-reported co-existing symptoms and syndromes are more prevalent in members of a PCS support group relative to the reported prevalence in the general population. More formal investigation is warranted to evaluate this finding and to investigate potential etiologic links. Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome appears to be common in self identifying PCS women.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)596-601
Number of pages6
Issue number8
StatePublished - Sep 2022


  • May-Thurner syndrome
  • Medical support groups
  • Social media survey
  • dysautonomia
  • pelvic congestion

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine


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