Pregnancy: are varicose veins part of the deal?
Around 40% of women will experience varicose veins during their pregnancy. We’ll explain why, and what you can do about varicose veins before, during, and after your pregnancy. Here are five key points:
01. Yes, you are more likely to get varicose veins while pregnant
Changes in hormone levels are one of the most important reasons women are more likely to suffer from varicose veins during pregnancy. There is an increase in progesterone, which causes the veins to relax and potentially swell more easily. In addition, as your baby grows, there is increased blood volume and higher pressure on the veins in the legs.
02. Regardless of the cause, varicose veins need to be assessed by a specialist
Whether or not you plan to get pregnant, it is important to have varicose veins assessed because they represent more than a cosmetic problem especially if associated with swelling, pigment or ulceration. Varicose veins are a symptom of an underlying medical condition which progresses without treatment. In moderate to severe cases they can be associated with blood clots (DVT and PE), especially after long distance flights.
03. Preventing varicose vein symptoms during your pregnancy
Keeping active and maintaining a healthy weight are important. Just as with non-pregnant women, avoiding standing or sitting for long periods of time is a good preventive measure. Putting your feet up is a good way to release some of the pressure on those veins, so do take regular rest breaks. You may also wish to consider compression stockings prescribed by your doctor, which can help maintain good blood circulation in your legs. Many women report significantly less discomfort from varicose veins when they use compression stockings.
04. Take action against varicose veins after your pregnancy
After your pregnancy, if the varicose veins haven’t disappeared within 3 or 4 months, you may wish to have them treated. There are several modern, minimally invasive treatments available, including ultrasound-guided sclerotherapy, endovenous treatments and VenaSealTM, a type of medical superglue. The right option for you will depend on the extent and location of your varicose veins, so you and your doctor can discuss the options and choose the most appropriate treatment for your particular condition. All treatments are performed on an outpatient basis, meaning you’ll be in and out of the clinic on the same day and back to your usual activities.
5. Reduce your varicose veins between pregnancies
You do not have to wait until you have finished having children to treat your varicose veins – this is outdated advice. Any minimally invasive treatments you receive now may be helpful in preventing or reducing varicose veins during future pregnancies.