If you suffer from intense cramps, it's easy enough to chalk it up to premenstrual syndrome (PMS). However, pelvic pain—especially chronic pelvic pain—may signify another, more serious condition: pelvic congestion syndrome (PCS).

PCS, also known as pelvic venous insufficiency, is a chronic condition affecting women of reproductive age. With this condition, varicose veins occur within the pelvic region, and these veins twist and swell up, causing dull pain similar to menstrual cramps.

Some women may wonder how to tell the difference between PCS and routine period pain.

Symptoms of PCS

PCS is difficult to diagnose because many women who have it tend to experience pain in the days leading up to their periods. This makes differentiating PCS from PMS difficult, according to Sara Twogood, M.D., a board-certified OB-GYN in Los Angeles