Purple or blue veins that happen to spurge under your skin surface and look like they are bulging out are called varicose veins. Usually common in the legs, it is known to show up in other places of the body as well. According to reports, women are more affected by the varicose veins than men. Studies have shown that out of every three women, one is affected by varicose veins. If you are either overweight or it runs in your family, chances are you will get it inevitably.
How do Varicose Veins Develop?
Veins are the blood vessels that return blood from all over your body to your heart. Veins usually consist of valves whose work is to prevent the circulation of blood that flows out of the heart backwards. Varicose veins are caused when the valves tend to function incorrectly or the walls of the veins become weak. The blood clots in the area where the vein is weak and the veins begin to sag and stretch alongside. It swells up by its size, thus becoming visible under your skin.
However, the most often asked question is, why do they appear mainly in your legs? While any vein can become varicose, the veins most commonly affected are found in the legs and feet.
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Causes of Varicose Veins During Pregnancy:
During pregnancy the volume of blood in your body increases and as the blood in your leg veins is already working against gravity, the blood flow from the legs to the pelvis also slows down. This process is designed to support the growing fetus and prepare the body for the childbirth, but this process also has a side effect of enlarged veins in your legs.
During the period of pregnancy as your uterus grows, it puts immense pressure on the large vein on the right side of your body (the inferior vena cava), which increases pressure in your leg veins.
And when you’re pregnant, the burden on your veins increases due to the increase in the amount of blood in your body, as well as the progesterone level also rises, relaxing the walls of your blood vessels.
If other members of the family already have the history of varicose veins it is more likely that the pregnant women experience them too. Painful varicose veins pregnancy tends to get worse with each successive pregnancy. Some other reasons of getting varicose veins during pregnancy could be carrying of twins or other multiples, being overweight and even standing for long periods.
The situation of varicose veins pregnancy tends to improve after the child is born, especially if you didn’t have any before you got pregnant. In case they don’t get better, you can look into various treatment options after the childbirth.
How to Prevent the Occurrence of Varicose Veins Pregnancy:
You may be able to minimize or possibly prevent varicose veins while you’re pregnant if you:
- Regular exercise.
- Stay within the recommended weight range during the period of your pregnancy.
- To ease the discomfort sit with your legs up as often as you can,
- Try and elevate your legs to the level of your heart or higher whenever possible.
- Elevate your feet and legs with pillows when you’re lying down and rest your legs on a tall stool or box when you’re sitting.
- Try to avoid standing for long periods of time, take frequent breaks and move around.
- Try not to sit with your legs crossed
- Wear support tights or stockings, which may also help to support your leg muscles.
- Doing foot exercises and other antenatal exercises, such as walking and swimming helps to reduce the pain and gives relief.
Another frequently asked question is if you will get varicose veins in any other area of your body. Although you are more prone to having varicose in your rectal area apart from legs, there is nothing to worry about. You should be fine. It is reported that around 4% of the pregnant woman happens to develop the veins around their vagina and it gets better by itself eventually once your child is born.
What are the Symptoms of Varicose Veins During Pregnancy?
Varicose veins aren’t just unpleasant to look at but they can cause other concerns as well that include
- Itching and rashes on your skin around the vein
- It causes ankles and the feet to swell up
- There are cramps in the muscle as well
- Leg pain and soreness are reported
If these are your common symptoms and they won’t stop and are causing you a lot of discomforts, it is advisable that you consult your doctor and get immediate treatment.
Vulvar Varicose Veins:
Varicose veins develop even in the vulva region of the females and they are known as Vulvar varicose veins. The vulva is a woman’s external genital area.
During pregnancy, many women experience vulvar varicose veins. This happens because of the increased hormone levels and changes in blood flow and can cause the veins in the vulva to become enlarged. Vulvar varicose veins cause severe pain and result in other symptoms for some.
Many pregnant women have vulvar varicose veins and they not even realize it. It happens because it is difficult to see the vulva and identify changes to it, especially during pregnancy.
Vulvar varicose veins can occur on the labia major and minor, the lips and skin folds of the vulva. Some visual symptoms of vulvar varicose veins include:
- Veins that are soft and purple or blue in colour.
- Veins that bulge out from your skin and appear twisted.
Apart from visible changes pregnant women with vulvar varicose veins experience:
- discomfort while sitting and walking
- heaviness or a full feeling in your vulva
- pressure or pain in your vulva
- pain during sex
Mostly, pregnant women may find that vulvar varicose veins appear during the middle of pregnancy.
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Can I Prevent Varicose Veins?
Although there is nothing you can do to stop the occurrence of varicose veins, you can always work on them from getting worse. Some of the most common suggestions are:
- Lie on your left side. Doing this takes off the pressure from your inferior vena cava which will ease up the circulation more. Place a pillow to support your back.
- Try not to either sit or stand in the same posture for longer than 30 minutes.
- Don’t keep your legs crossed if you have to work in front of a desk. Also, make sure you don’t put your leg up too high as this could harm your baby.
- Try and maintain a balanced diet as varicose veins might get worse otherwise.
- Put on safe maternity tights or compression stockings prescribed by a doctor to help reduce the pain and proved relief.
- Do open the stockings when you get out of bed.
- These methods may not obviate the occurring of the varicose veins but they definitely provide relief and forestall it from getting worse.
Are Varicose Veins a Serious Problem in Pregnancy?
It isn’t a serious or life-threatening condition if you are suffering from varicose veins. However, you should exercise caution and ask your midwife for suggestions if you see the veins around your vagina and perineum swell up. This might cause trouble when giving birth. She will make sure that your perineum doesn’t undergo a tear as you might suffer from a severe bleeding issue during delivery. Your midwife will suggest you move slowly and push using caution, avoiding any pressure in the area. If you have a previous history of varicose veins, it is worth asking the chances of having it again.
The next thing to keep in mind is that the skin that is right above your vein might become thin and thus bleed more if there is a cut or a nick. It might even get difficult to stop the bleeding since the area is in severe lack of oxygen and nutrients because no fresh blood reaches it. In case you see symptoms like ulcers and skin hardening, consult your doctor right away to be on the safe side.
A lot of new mothers also worry about deep vein thrombosis (DVT). Although a rare condition, it might be a risk and hence you should ask your doctor about your chances instead of choosing to ignore it.
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What if My Varicose Veins Won’t go Away?
In case the varicose veins don’t get cured even after the delivery of your child, there are surgeries that you can opt for to prevent the condition from getting worse. There are even laser therapies and chemical injections available. But for most of the women, they get cured automatically once the child is born.
It is imperative that pregnant women suffering from varicose veins try and keep the condition under control and obstruct it from getting severe.