The WellSpan Spotlight

Patient stories

Busy moms with pelvic pain: Get the help you need fast

202024_Rochelle Weaver family, pelvic congestion

Busy mom Rochelle Weaver shown with her family.

Rochelle Weaver was a busy mom of six children, ranging in age from 1 to 12, when she started to experience debilitating pelvic pain.

The pain was familiar. The Lancaster woman started feeling it after the birth of her second child, but it grew more and more intense after each pregnancy. In the months following the delivery of her sixth baby, the pain was so unbearable that it began affecting her life.

“It was painful to be on my feet, which made it difficult to care for our new baby. I was missing out on the joy of those special moments,” she says.

It turned out she had a condition called pelvic congestion syndrome, which affects mostly women of childbearing age and is more common in women like Rochelle who have given birth to multiple children.

Dr. Leon Salem, a vascular surgeon at WellSpan Ephrata Community Hospital who treated Rochelle, says, “The syndrome can really have a negative impact for women in the prime of their lives, when they are busy raising a family. It’s important to be diagnosed correctly so we can treat you and get you back to your normal routine.”

The veins in the pelvis can enlarge and change shape, like varicose veins, which can lead to pain and swelling in the pelvic area.The condition hinders the pelvic veins’ ability to pump blood properly back to the heart. This can cause blood to build up inside the veins.

Symptoms can include:

  • Pelvic pain, which worsens with sitting, standing, or walking.
  • Hemorrhoids.
  • Feeling a sudden need to urinate.
  • Lower back pain.
  • Pain before or during menstruation.
  • Enlarged and distorted veins (varicose veins) on the buttocks, vagina or legs.


When Dr. Salem first examined Rochelle, he performed a comprehensive evaluation. Pelvic congestion syndrome can be challenging to diagnose since its symptoms can be similar to other abdominal/pelvic conditions, so patients may need to have comprehensive testing involving other specialties, such as urology or gastroenterology.

The only definitive diagnostic test for the syndrome is a venogram, a test that uses X-rays to create moving pictures of blood flow in the veins, particularly those in the legs and pelvis. The venogram showed that Rochelle’s pelvic veins were congested, which was causing the blood to pool and create the pressure and pain she felt.

Dr. Salem performed a minimally invasive procedure, placing a stent to allow Rochelle’s pelvic veins to function normally again. She immediately felt better.

“I’m so grateful that my care team heard and understood my wishes for the procedure. Because I was still nursing my youngest baby, they allowed me the option to only be numbed and not be fully under sedation,” Rochelle says.

“After lying flat in recovery for just two hours, I was able to walk out of the surgery center on my own with my husband,” Rochelle says. “I felt great and was able to go home and enjoy time with my baby and older children – just like any other day.” 

Rochelle fully resumed her active lifestyle with her family free from pelvic pain. Her pelvic congestion syndrome case resolved.

Rochelle’s story doesn’t end there. She and her husband were blessed with a surprise seventh baby, due later this year. And if her pelvic pain comes back after delivery, Dr. Salem will care for her again.

“Don’t be afraid to be your own advocate,” Dr. Salem advises. “The condition is tricky to diagnose, so it’s OK to ask your doctor if your pain could be related to pelvic congestion syndrome.”

If you think you could be suffering with pelvic congestion syndrome, have a conversation with your OB/GYN or PCP, or call WellSpan Vascular Surgery at 717-738-0167.