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Vulvar varicose veins in pregnancy: why they appear and how to treat them

The changes typical of pregnancy, caused by hormones and increased pressure inside the veins, cause 40 percent of pregnant women to develop varicose veins.

These appear when blood stagnates in the veins that most support the weight of gravity, such as the legs, rectum and sometimes the vulva. The most common are those of the legs, rectum (hemorrhoids) and less known vulvar varicose veins. We are going to talk about them: why they appear and how we can treat them.

Why do vulvar varicose veins appear

These varicose veins on the outer surface of the female genitalia (labia majora and minora of the vulva) occur more frequently during pregnancy due to an increase in blood volume in the pelvic region and the associated decrease in the speed with which it blood flows from the lower body to the heart. As a result, blood accumulates in the veins of the lower extremities as well as in the region of the vulva.

The hormones of pregnancy also have something to do with it, since they relax the muscle fibers present in the walls of the veins , with which they relax and are more likely to dilate and deform. Aesthetically they may not like them, but the worst are the physical discomfort they can cause, such as muscle pain in the calves, thighs, vulva or anus, heaviness or cramps.

It is rare that they occur in women who have not had children , but they can appear occasionally in those who are more prone to have varicose veins in the legs. This is so because varicose veins also have a hereditary component.


Signs are not always present. Even when they appear, a woman may not be able to feel them, as they may be internal. In the event of any discomfort in the perineum and vulva area that is suspected of being vulvar varicose veins, you should consult your doctor to make the diagnosis and analyze what situation they are in.

If present, they can include a sensation of swelling or pressure in the vulvar area, inflammation and discomfort in the vulva.

In extreme cases, the dilated vessels can protrude. They may look bluish and feel like bumps.

Long periods of time on your feet, physical activity, and sex can aggravate this condition.

How to relieve discomfort

This type of varicose vein will probably not affect delivery. Also, these veins tend to have low blood flow. Therefore, even if bleeding did occur, it could be easily controlled.

It is common for pregnancy-related vulvar varicose veins to disappear approximately six weeks after delivery.

In the meantime, there are some measures that can help:

  • Wear underwear that supports the pelvic area. There are garments specifically designed for vulvar varicose veins, which also provide support to the lower abdomen and lower back.

  • Avoid standing or sitting for long periods of time.

  • Elevating your legs can help improve circulation.

  • Placing cold compresses on the vulva also relieves discomfort.

Regarding treatment, from the Hospital de Manises they point out that “the therapeutic approach may include the study of pelvic venous insufficiency if symptoms of pelvic congestive syndrome are associated, in which case embolization of the pelvic veins that cause them could be considered. If it does not associate other symptoms, a local approach with sclerotherapy can be tried ”.

Via | Mayo Clinic

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