Why are Women at higher risk of Varicose Veins?

August 27, 2020 Dr Zil

Varicose veins are something you have probably heard of. They occur when the vein valves in your leg veins become faulty and are no longer sufficiently able to pump blood back up to your heart. Instead, it begins to reflux or pool in the veins, leading to the formation of raised, lumpy varicose veins. There are a number of different causes, but why are women at higher risk of varicose veins than men and is there any way they can be prevented?

What puts women at a higher risk?

Unfortunately, the risk of these developing is much higher in women than men. In fact, women are twice as likely to develop varicose veins, with up to fifty per cent of all women having some level of varicose veins. While there are several factors that cause this, the chief amongst them is something known as progesterone.

What is Progesterone?

Progesterone is one of the hormones that your body produces, both in men and women. However, women produce considerably more of it. This hormone’s main function is to help maintain the function of several vital organs, including the uterus (hence the extra load for the fairer sex). However, it also acts to relax the walls of blood vessels, which can lead to the development of varicose veins and spider veins.

However those in possession of a Y chromosome are still at risk of varicose veins, so being a man is no reason to be complacent when it comes to vein health.

Read more: Do Men Suffer from Varicose Veins?

Why is it affecting me now?

Anything that increases the strain on your veins can lead to the development of varicose veins however there are some factors which put you at an increased risk of causing the condition. These include

Pregnancy: During pregnancy, your body produces twice the amount of blood to supply your growing baby with oxygen and nutrients essential for growth. This increased amount of blood can cause your veins to swell and increase pressure on them. On top of this, the extra weight in your belly adds another level of stress on the legs, amplifying the pressure on the vein walls.

While your varicose veins will normally go away a few months after delivery, consecutive pregnancies can lead to a gradual weakening of the veins that doesn’t heal properly.

Hormones: While your body is producing different hormones all the time, the release of higher levels of them can lead to issues. In particular, studies have shown that increased levels of estrogen and progesterone can contribute to the development of varicose veins.

Lifestyle & age: Once you reach middle age, your chances of developing varicose veins increases noticeably, rising as you get older. In addition to this, lifestyle factors like being overweight, smoking, lack of exercise and poor diet can all contribute to this increased risk.

Diagram of a normal functioning vein with healthy vein valves, a varicose vein with damaged vein valves and then an image of how the varicose vein looks when compressed by wearing medical-grade compression stockings.

What can I do?

While women are at higher risk of varicose veins, there are lots that can be done to mitigate that risk and protect your veins. Some easy things to do include

  • Wearing medical grade compression stockings.
  • Maintaining a consistent exercise routine to keep the legs moving.
  • If you’re overweight, work with your GP to shed some kilos.
  • Change your diet to maintain healthy blood pressure.

Read more: Non-surgical treatment for varicose veins

Seek expert advice

The doctors at The Vein Institute specialise in varicose vein treatment. We offer patients a comprehensive treatment program to treat varicose veins, with non-surgical laser treatment techniques. The benefits of laser treatment to patients 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 535 017. Or, make an enquiry via the Contact Us page.