Varicose veins are typically associated with women. So, you might be surprised to learn that they can affect men too.
And as varicose veins can be unsightly, painful, and sometimes even dangerous, it’s important to know how and why they might affect you and how to manage and treat them.
How likely are men to get varicose veins?
On average, men are half as likely to get varicose veins as women. However, the condition is still pretty common, with over 40% of men over 70 developing it.
Additionally, there are a few things that increase your chances of getting varicose veins. These include:
- Exercise regimen
- Medical and family history
- Heavy lifting
You can learn more about these risk factors here.
But basically, varicose veins form when veins strain too much. This strain, whether caused by excess weight, regular wear and tear, standing too long or something else, results in your vein valves malfunctioning.
The valves, responsible for stopping blood from flowing backwards, can no longer do their job. So, your blood instead pools in the vein, stretching its walls and turning it varicose.
Where can varicose veins form in men?
As you might imagine, leg veins are most at risk. So it’s no surprise that’s where we see most varicose veins in men.
But, varicose veins can form anywhere there’s venous insufficiency, including your torso, arms, and legs.
And just as there are some varicose vein conditions that only affect women (like vulvar varicose veins), there is also one that only affects men. Known as varicoceles, this condition involves varicose veins forming in the scrotum.
How do I know if I have varicose veins?
First, the veins will likely appear in the common problem areas like the thighs, calves, ankles, or scrotum. Second, they’ll generally be pretty easy to spot. Varicose veins are large, twisty, bulging, and dark blue or purple in colour.
And third, you might experience pain, swelling, itching, or burning in the problem area, or even muscle fatigue. Because remember, varicose veins mean reduced blood flow. And reduced blood flow means your muscles aren’t getting the oxygen they need to function at 100%.
What happens if I don’t treat them?
It largely depends on how severe they are. If your condition is mild, there’s a chance you’ll just be stuck with a bulging vein and some achiness. But if your condition is more severe, it can easily worsen or lead to some dangerous conditions, like deep vein thrombosis.
It’s not known exactly why, but varicose veins are typically more dangerous for men.
If varicose veins form in the scrotum specifically, research shows that it could lead to infertility. Basically, the scrotum holds the testes and the veins responsible for supplying them with blood and oxygen. If that supply is impacted, the testes might have trouble producing sperm and testosterone, which are key to fertility.
Fortunately, though, not all varicoceles cause infertility. And there are some safe treatments available.
How do you treat varicose veins in men?
Vein stripping was once the only option (and an especially horrifying one if you have varicose veins in the scrotum). But now, vein specialists can perform minimally invasive procedures.
- Endovenous Laser Ablation, where we insert a small, laser-tipped catheter and seal the vein via heat energy.
- Radiofrequency Ablation, where we seal the varicose vein through bursts of radiofrequency.
- Medical superglue, where we inject medical-grade glue through a needle or catheter and glue the varicose vein shut
- Sclerotherapy, where we inject a sclerosant to agitate the varicose vein wall, causing clotting
- And ClariVein, where use the ClariVein catheter to inject a sclerosant deeper into the problem vein.
After we seal the vein, your body absorbs it and reroutes your blood through healthy veins. We can generally perform these treatments within an hour. And as they’re minimally invasive and only require local anaesthesia, you can walk out of the clinic right after.
Are there any non-medical treatments that could help?
There are no non-medical treatments per se. But if your case is mild, you could try some varicose vein remedies to alleviate your symptoms.
Please note, though, that varicose veins can be tricky. We understand the urge to deal with them on your own, but even if you’re using remedies, your varicose veins can still worsen and become dangerous.
So, even if they’re not particularly bothering you, we’d recommend booking a consultation to make sure your veins are getting the best care.
Call us at 1300 535 017. We’ll be happy to talk you through your options.