As you probably know, the majority of varicose veins—those swollen, twisted, discolored veins—occur in the leg and ankle areas. However, varicose veins can appear during pregnancy in the vagina or vulva area as well!
Understanding Varicose Veins
Veins are the pathways within the body that transport blood back from the extremities to the heart. Veins in the legs have to work extra hard against the forces of gravity to do their job. The veins in vaginal and vulvar area are connected to the veins in the legs. Varicose veins happen if the valves in the veins become damaged or weak, which will then cause the blood to flow backward and pool. It is this pooling that causes the enlarged, often twisted veins which causes more valves to fail in a vicious cycle.
Varicose Veins Prevention and Pregnancy
As we said, most varicose veins appear in the legs, but they can appear in the vulva or labia during pregnancy. During pregnancy, the amount of blood in the body increases and creates a burden on the veins. Pregnancy can also cause a rise in progesterone levels, which can cause the walls of the veins to relax. Also, many women experience weight gain that can add pressure to the veins. Additionally, the baby can add pressure to the abdomen. All of these factors can cause the appearance of varicose veins. Symptoms of varicose veins—whether in the legs or the labia/vulva region—can include swelling, itching, burning, and an unsightly appearance.
Reducing and Treating Varicose Veins During Pregnancy
There are several things you can do to help with varicose veins prevention:
- Maintain a healthy weight
- Elevate your legs when possible
- Exercise regularly
- Don’t cross your legs/ankles
- Avoid sitting or standing for long periods of time
If you experience varicose veins in the vulva or labia areas during pregnancy, traditional varicose vein treatments are not recommended. In most cases, the veins will disappear after delivery when the pressure is relieved, along with the return of normal hormone levels. Should the veins not disappear, you should discuss the condition with your physician.
At St. Louis Laser Vein Center, we are experienced in all vein issues and conditions. We can help you, whether these vein conditions appear during pregnancy or at other times. We will help you find the best procedures and treatments to help you eliminate varicose veins. Just give us a call to set up a consultation.