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Does Pregnancy Cause Varicose Veins?

More than 80 million Americans suffer from vein disease, a medical condition that can lead to further health problems… Are you one of the “lucky” women who know all about varicose veins? Whether it’s the smaller “spider veins” that spread out like an unattractive net across your legs, or those bulgy veins with bumps and lumps, they often show up for the first time {or get worse, if you had them before} during pregnancy. But does pregnancy actually cause them, or something else?

Pregnancy and varicose veins

Does Pregnancy cause varicose veins?

Vein problems usually run in families {about 80% of cases are genetic} – so if you have other women in your family who have them, you’re likely to learn too much about them too. Which means that while pregnancy CAN make them worse, or make them show themselves for the first time – it doesn’t actually cause them.

What are varicose veins? Essentially, varicose veins are produced when small valves in veins break and cause the blood in them to flow in the wrong direction. This causes the veins to bulge.

Another misconception about vein disease is that it’s just what you see on the surface. What you see there might only be a very small indicator of what’s going on – you might see a scattering of small varicose veins on your ankle, that seem harmless. Perhaps you work in a job like retail, where you’re on your feet all day, and attributed it to that – which is possible, since long periods of time on your feet, or being overweight or obese, can make vein disease worse. But often that small set of spider veins you see is caused by a larger vein, higher in the leg, that is blocked or damaged.

More surprising facts about vein disease

One of the biggest surprises is that many times – you can’t even SEE vein disease. This stuff runs in my family, and even I was surprised by a lot of the symptoms. I had always believed that you would see something before ever feeling anything, or having real health problems.

  • Symptoms you might feel before you see something wrong: Pain, burning, swelling, itching, restlessness, or fatigue. This kind of freaked me out, since I’ve had some trouble in just one leg since having Abby. I’ve been having some problems, something that felt like maybe restless leg syndrome that I’d heard about, since I was pregnant. But now that I know this feeling can be a sign of something more serious, I’m going to see my doctor to have things checked out further. 
  • There are other types of vein problems too: Hand veins, those bulgy-looking veins you see usually as you age, are almost always just due to thinning skin with age, and not a health problem. There are also facial vein problems – usually from sun damage, or rosacea. They can appear as extremely dark circles, or red and purple veins on nose, cheeks, and chin. All of these are usually cosmetic – but while they may not need to be treated medically, many people would love to find a way to get rid of them!
  • An itchy red rash or red dots on the legs: This might be confused with a different medical condition called eczema. But these can actually be symptoms of a leg condition called venous stasis dermatitis and signal an underlying leg condition that cannot be seen at the skin’s surface. 
  • More than half of all women will develop varicose vein disease over the course of their lifetime:  However 40-45 percent of all men will develop it as well. The unique hormonal conditions that women face, such as pregnancy and menopause, often cause their veins to become worse.  

But – while this all sounds like a huge bummer-fest, I do have some good news to share… All of these problems: Cosmetic, or medically necessary, have common treatment options available to fix them up. Amazing. So whether it turns out that your problem is simply something you don’t like the looks of, and want to be rid of before swimsuit season – or it’s something that’s causing you actual pain and probs that you’d like evaluated, you have options.

Check out Vein Clinics of America to learn more, see what options are available, and find help near you.


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