Menu

What Is the Hypogastric Artery?

Medically Reviewed by Dan Brennan, MD on May 13, 2021

The hypogastric artery, also called the iliac artery, provides blood flow to the organs in your pelvis. You have an abdominal aorta, which is a large artery that travels down into your pelvis, where it splits into your iliac arteries.

What Is the Hypogastric Artery, and What Does It Do?

You have an internal iliac artery and an external iliac artery. The internal artery is the hypogastric artery, while the external iliac artery provides the blood that flows to your legs.

Your abdominal aorta splits between the fourth and fifth vertebrae in your back to branch off into your pelvic area. This artery splits to the left and right of your body. It splits again after a few centimeters, branching into the internal and external iliac arteries. The hypogastric artery provides blood to your pelvis, visceral organs, and your lower back.

Hypogastric artery development. Your cardiovascular system developed very early on, when you were still in the womb. This system provided blood flow and oxygen to the rest of your body, fueling rapid cell development leading up to birth.

Around the third week in the womb, your heart began beating. Your iliac artery developed from the umbilical artery attached to your stomach. As you grew to become a child, adolescent, and adult, the exact placement of this artery shifted to accommodate your development.

Understanding blood supply. The hypogastric artery provides blood flow to several areas, including your:

  • Pelvic wall
  • Pelvic viscera
  • Perineum‌
  • Glutes

Women also have a vaginal artery that stems from the uterine artery and provides blood flow to the uterus and the vagina. The hypogastric artery also branches out to supply blood and oxygen to your:

  • Thighs
  • Hip joint
  • Gluteal area
  • Rectum
  • Bladder
  • Seminal vesicles
  • Ejaculatory ducts
  • Vagina
  • Uterus
  • Gonads‌
  • Urethra

Your digestive tract, bladder, kidneys, and genital organs all drain waste into the lymphatic system of your pelvic area. Vessels branch from the hypogastric artery to provide blood flow to your lymph nodes, aiding in the efficient elimination of waste from your body.

How Blood Flow Can Impact Your Health

With each beat of your heart, blood is pushed through your veins and arteries to deliver oxygen throughout your body. Your veins and arteries are made of elastic-like material, and each one serves a different purpose.

Arteries, like the hypogastric artery, deliver blood to vital organs and other areas of your body. Veins take the blood back to your heart for more oxygen. If you have a health condition that affects the flow of your blood or your circulation the hypogastric artery is also affected. Circulation problems lessens the oxygen available to vital organs in your pelvis, including your sex organs, kidneys, and bladder.

Vascular diseases include:

  • Arterial disease: This happens when plaque buildup accumulates in your arteries and causes your arteries to narrow.
  • Peripheral artery disease: Buildup causes a blockage that restricts blood flow.
  • Renal artery disease: A blockage leads to high blood pressure, heart failure, and decreased kidney function.
  • Venous disease: If the valves in your veins are damaged, they may not close completely. This allows blood to flow in both directions, limiting oxygen availability.‌
  • Blood clots: If blood coagulates in a vein, it may form a clot that blocks valves and may lead to a heart attack or stroke.

If you suspect any of these conditions is impacting the blood flow to your pelvic area, talk to your doctor. While poor circulation isn’t usually considered a disease itself, it may be a sign that you have a more serious health condition.

Risks Associated With the Hypogastric Artery

Poor blood flow in your pelvis may lead to conditions like pelvic congestion syndrome. When this happens, the veins that take blood away from your pelvis and transport it back to your heart may be restricted.

The hypogastric artery is continually delivering more oxygenated blood to the area, leading to a buildup of blood. You may have pelvic pain during activities like walking, standing, and sex.

Another risk if the hypogastric artery narrows is that it restricts blood flow to your pelvis, including your bladder and kidneys. If your kidneys don’t get enough blood and oxygen, they can’t balance the fluids in your body. This may lead to increased blood pressure and reduced kidney function.

WebMD Medical Reference

Sources

SOURCES:

Cedars Sinai: “Pelvic Congestion Syndrome.”

Cleveland Clinic: “Vascular Disease.”

Harvard Health Publishing: “When the blood supply to the kidneys suffers.”

StatPearls Publishing: “Anatomy, Abdomen and Pelvis, Internal Iliac Arteries.”‌

© 2020 WebMD, LLC. All rights reserved.