Most people know about varicose veins. These are those unattractive, swollen veins that show up in the legs and ankles. These varicose veins also appear during pregnancy. While the majority of these varicose veins will occur in the legs, they can also appear in the vagina or vulvar area.
Veins are important components in transporting blood back from extremities, such as the arms and legs, back to the heart. The veins in the legs actually have to work against the forces of gravity when they are getting that blood back to the heart. Varicose veins occur if the valve becomes damaged or weakened, which causes the blood to flow backward, and subsequently pool in the veins. It is this pooling that creates the enlarged veins and the blue or purple coloration.
The amount of blood increases during pregnancy, which creates an added burden on the veins. In addition, during pregnancy progesterone levels increase, which can cause the walls of the blood vessels to relax. Many women gain weight during their pregnancy and that adds pressure to the veins. These factors can all contribute to the appearance or worsening of varicose veins.
Again, most varicose veins are found mostly in the legs, but can appear in the vulva during pregnancy. This is due to fluid retention and weight gain. Additionally, the baby can add pressure to the abdomen, which can cause enlarged veins.
The symptoms of varicose veins include that unsightly appearance, swelling, itching, and burning feelings. The legs may also feel heavy and you can feel an overall sense of fatigue.
During your pregnancy, there are several things you can do to reduce the appearance of varicose veins including:
Exercise on a regular schedule
Try to maintain your healthy weight levels
Elevate your legs when you can
Do not cross your legs or ankles
Try to avoid standing or sitting for extended periods
During pregnancy, traditional varicose vein treatments are not recommend. In most cases, after the baby is delivered and the pressure is relieved, the varicose veins will be relieved, especially those that may have appeared in the vulva. If they do not, you should contact your physician to see if you need to undergo treatments such as sclerotherapy or ablation.