What are varicose veins?
Varicose veins, also called varicosities or varices, are blood vessels that are engorged with blood. This happens when the walls of the blood vessels become weak or the valves do not work properly. They occur most often in the legs, but are also common in the vulva. They can cause pain or discomfort, though it's possible to have them without pain.
Common symptoms of varicose veins are:
- Purple-blue spot or blemish on leg
- Bulging veins
- Swollen vulva
- Pain or discomfort that worsens when at the end of the day or after standing for an extended time.
Who gets them?
It's thought that some women have an inherited predisposition to forming varicose veins. Other factors that determine if you will develop varices are age, prolonged sitting or standing, being overweight, chronic constipation, and pregnancy.
Varicose veins and pregnancy
During pregnancy, your growing uterus can put pressure on your blood vessels, causing discomfort. Women often develop their first varicose veins during pregnancy. If you already had varicose veins, your pregnancy could make them worse. Your varicose veins are not likely to go away after pregnancy, though you may find tremendous relief after your baby is born.
Treating varicose veins
The first step in treating your varicose veins and finding relief from discomfort is to stay off your feet as much as possible. This is often easier said than done. Rest as often as you can on your side or with your feet and legs elevated. A pillow, recliner, or the end of the couch work nicely for this.
You should wear flat shoes only (no high heals). Be careful that you do not cross your legs when you sit, as this can put even more pressure on your veins, making the problem worse.
Your doctor or midwife may recommend a special kind of panty hose called support hose or ted hose. These hose are designed to fit snugly and compress your legs, increasing circulation and preventing blood clots.
Alternative treatments that may help to increase circulation and relieve varicose veins are:
- Chiropractic Care
- Therapeutic Baths
- Acupressure or Acupuncture