Vulvar varicosities are varicose veins that are found around or in the vulva. This type of varicose vein tends to be common for women who are pregnant and this could also be common in many parts of a woman’s body. If you are pregnant and are seeing varicosities in the vulva and other parts of your body, you’re on the right page as we will talk more about varicosities and why it appears most especially for pregnant women, its causes and most common symptoms. We will also include tips on how to prevent and treat it if you have them.
In general, varicosities are swollen, enlarged, and twisted veins that may appear dark purple or blue. They happen when the vein’s valves are faulty making the blood flow in the wrong direction. At least 1 in 4 adults are affected by varicose veins in the US and it’s approximately 23% of the whole American population. Although anyone can be affected by this, pregnant women are more susceptible when it comes to this.
Varicosities: Causes and Symptoms
Varicose veins often appear in the feet and legs but pregnant women develop varicosities in the vulva. This is because there is pressure in the genitals and an increased blood flow. This can then cause the varicose veins in the vulva called vulvar varicosities.
The veins that form rarely need any medical attention but if there is changing, swelling, or painful legs as a result of these veins, treatment, and medications are made available. It’s great to know as well that the majority of these treatments can also be done at home.
Just a heads up that not all pregnant women who have varicosities have symptoms or even notice them. Even when the symptoms become evident, they might not see the actual veins. If you are suspecting to have vulvar varicosities, you may consult your doctor for a proper diagnosis. Here are some of the common symptoms that you can get if you have vulvar varicosities during your pregnancy.
- Swollen or twisted veins
- Pain around or in the genitals
- Fullness or pressure in the genitals
- Pain that is getting worse after sexual activity, physical activity, and standing.
Pregnancy causes are the main culprit of varicosities as many changes in the body could cause the twisting of veins.
This is needed for a healthy pregnancy and it gets increased when you are pregnant. However, it causes relaxation of veins which makes the blood stagnant in some areas. As the blood builds up in those areas, the pressure increases, and the vein becomes enlarged.
Pressure coming from the uterus
The fetus in the womb pushes the blood vessels and organs from the abdomen. The pressure that is being put in the pelvic causes the veins to be enlarged, too.
Increased blood flow
During pregnancy, the blood flow of a woman increases, too. More blood means that there is more blood in the veins which strains the vein walls and valves.
More often than not, women who are pregnant women could get varicosities during their pregnancy because of the common causes listed above. But worry not as there are treatments available to ease the pain if you have them. There are also preventive measures that you can do to altogether dodge varicosities.
Treatment and Prevention
It’s important to note that the treatment provided is designed to manage the symptoms. Worry not as vulvar varicosities naturally go away for at least a month after giving birth. The most common treatments that you can do are the following:
- Apply heat or ice in the affected are asleep on your left side during pregnancy so that you can place lesser pressure in your vena cava
- Wear supportive underwear during your pregnancies like support stockings or compression
Health professionals do not recommend pregnant women to have vulvar varicosities removed as they technically go away naturally. If it does not heal and go away after several months, you may have surgical procedure options available such as:
- Sclerotherapy: It involves a solution that gets injected in the vein that blocks the flow of blood. It would then eliminate the swelling and pain.
- Vein embolization: The process would involve a catheter that would close the damaged vein using a coil.
Both of those treatments above can be done on an outpatient basis and the patient will not feel any kind of pain, too. Of course, it’s always best to be ahead of things before varicosities can even happen, right? That’s why it’s a must for pregnant women to know these prevention tips to have better chances in dodging or at least managing varicosities during pregnancy.
- Avoid standing or sitting in the same position for longer periods. Make sure that you do changes to break it once in a while.
- If possible, avoid high heels. It’s best to wear flat or low heel shoes so that your calf muscles relax. This could foster health circulation.
- Keep your body moving and get a workout and exercise routine.
- When sitting, avoid crossing the legs.
- Wear support hosiery for maternity. They put pressure on the legs which could stimulate the flow of blood.
- Reduce your sodium consumption.
- Eat more fiber and get hydrated so that constipation could be prevented.
- Periodically elevate your legs
Complication and Risks
Varicosities are most common for pregnant women but it does not mean that regular adults could not get it. These are those that have higher risks of getting varicosities, too.
- Women aged 50 and up
- Family history in having varicose veins
- Standing and sitting for long periods
Put simply, the most common cause of varicosities are poor blood circulation or the pooling of blood in the veins. We do not want that to happen as serious complications like DVT or Deep Vein Thrombosis could happen. It’s rare but it could happen.
Worry not as vulvar varicosities are not permanent for pregnant women, however, if you are prone to varicose veins, you may get it for each of your pregnancy. If it does not go away and complications are experienced, it’s best to visit your doctor. They could recommend home remedies or even surgical procedures to help ease the pains.
Varicosities look frightening and, normally, some women may be embarrassed when it comes to this topic. But note that it is common and widespread in the US and across the world so there is no apparent reason to panic or be alarmed. If you are parents, you are most likely to develop varicosities but it does not mean that it should get in the way of your wellness and comfortability during pregnancy. You can follow the tips and prevention guides above and you’d be on your way to managing your varicosities.