What Causes Varicose Veins in the Groin?

March 18, 2021 The Vein Institute

Often when we first think of varicose veins, bulging twisted veins in the legs and red scatterings of spider veins are what come to mind. While these most commonly occur in the legs, any vein can potentially become a varicose vein. Changed veins in the legs can be one thing that worries you, but varicose veins in your groin can lead you to a panic.

Noticing varicose veins in the groin, along with swelling and irritation is understandably worrying and while it can be uncomfortable the good news is that it’s relatively easy to manage and treat.

Why do varicose veins develop?

Varicose veins develop when the veins are unable to properly pump blood back to the heart, this causes the blood to pool and the vein to swell.

Symptoms include itching, pain, swelling and if left untreated, serious health conditions can develop. While it’s most common in the legs, both men and women can suffer from varicose veins in the groin. For women, it’s known as pelvic congestion syndrome, while for men it’s varicocele.

What causes varicose veins in the groin?

Pelvic congestion syndrome

Pelvic congestion syndrome (PCS) occurs when the veins that run across the ovaries and past the pelvis become varicose veins. Resulting in chronic pain that lasts for at least six months, it can be very unpleasant. While there is a number of things that can intensify it, the primary cause is generally hormones or enlarged veins.

The cause of this hormonal imbalance could be such things as pregnancy, growing past adolescence, certain oral contraceptives or HRT.

It’s quite common, with a third of all women suffering from PCS at some point in their life. It most often causes intermittent pain and swelling, and vulvar varicosities can also occur at the same time.

Treating PCS most commonly involves the use of anti-inflammatories and other medication to alleviate the symptoms while the core issue resolves, but in more serious cases it may require a medical procedure that involves a laser fibre inserted into the vein to seal off the varicose and redirect blood flow.

Learn more: What are the symptoms of pelvic congestion syndrome?


In men, the blood vessels in the scrotum can become varicose and cause what is known as varicocele.

The veins can sometimes be so small that only an ultrasound can detect them or large enough that they cause the whole scrotum to become deformed. They are most often caused when valves in the testicular vein don’t work properly, but they can also occur if there’s an issue in the vein higher up around the abdomen.

About 15 per cent of all men suffer from varicocele.

Most often there’s no pain or obvious symptoms, but in unusual cases, there may be pain and a burning sensation in the area affected. However, in more serious cases, fertility can be affected as well as the production of testosterone.

In the majority of cases, varicoceles are left alone as they don’t cause any harm. However, for those who have more serious cases, or where they are trying to conceive, it may be worth having the problem vein treated. This is most commonly done through a laser fibre being inserted into the vein to seal it off.

Learn more: Testicular varicose veins

Diagram of varicose veins in the groin in men, known as Varicocele

Seek expert advice

The doctors at The Vein Institute specialise in varicose vein treatment. We offer patients a comprehensive program using non-surgical laser treatment techniques. You can learn more in our Definitive Guide to Varicose Vein Treatment.

The benefits of non-surgical varicose vein treatment are:

  • Walk-in walk-out treatment
  • 98% success rate
  • Extremely effective
  • Can be performed at a clinic (no hospitalisation)
  • No general anaesthetic
  • Medicare rebates apply
  • No downtime or time away from work

To book a consultation and discuss our treatment program, call  1300 981 402. Or, make an enquiry via the Contact Us page.