The body changes in numerous ways while you are pregnant, as it needs to function in a different way to support the growing baby. One of the main changes that you may notice is that you start to develop visible veins in your pelvic area and legs. It may feel like pressure or a dull ache, and in some cases, it can be painful. This is a normal development that affects around one third of pregnant women, and these varicose veins are linked to a number of physiological changes, including increased blood volume and the weight of the growing uterus and baby. These veins don’t have to affect you forever: there are now numerous treatments available.
What Are Varicose Veins?
Varicose veins are veins that are swollen or twisted, and have started to leak small amount of blood into the surrounding tissues. Every vein contains small valves inside it, which work to pump blood back towards the heart. When these valves are put under pressure or are overworked, they can stop functioning properly. This causes the vein to swell and contort, and the blood pools near the leaky valve. This swelling can result in pain, and you will be able to see the vein against the skin.
These types of vein can also occur during pregnancy on your vulva or around your pelvis. This is due to the same mechanism, where the vein gets swollen due to pressure. There are a number of reasons for this that are primarily caused by the pregnancy, and the symptoms will often alleviate when the baby is born.
The main reason why these types of veins occur during pregnancy is that the blood volume in your body more than doubles while you are pregnant. This is due to the presence of the placenta, which is a very large organ. It attaches to the wall of the uterus and supplies nutrients to the growing baby. This process requires a lot of blood. This additional blood flow puts extra stress on the valves inside your veins, and can make them more likely to struggle.
In addition, the uterus and the baby grow bigger throughout the pregnancy, as does the placenta. It is normal for women to gain between 11-16 kg during pregnancy, with a significant portion of this amount being amniotic fluid, placenta, baby, and blood. This extra weight presses down into the pelvis, which can put extra pressure against the veins that go through the pelvis and down into the legs.
Can They Be Treated?
Definitely! Varicose vein treatments are continually developing, including many non-invasive or minimally-invasive methods. First, however, you should try to prevent more varicose veins from developing.
An easy step that you can take to prevent varicose veins from developing further is to try to stay within the recommended weight gain for your pregnancy. Keep up with regular exercise as much as you are allowed, as being sedentary can also make it more likely for varicose veins to appear. Take time to elevate your legs occasionally, and if you are required to stand a lot or lift heavy items for your job, see if you can be assigned other responsibilities instead of these tasks.
Next, get treatment for any varicose veins that you already have. There are numerous treatment options that you can look into, including non-invasive procedures.
Varicose vein treatments can be divided into two main categories: heat-based techniques, and non-heat-based techniques. All treatments work by sealing the leaking vein off inside. The main heat-based treatments are called endovenous laser treatment (EVLT) and radiofrequency ablation. They are long-established treatments, and have high success rates. Non-heat-based treatments include foam sclerotherapy and Clarivein. These are less established but still effective.
In any event, varicose veins are very common during pregnancy, and nothing to worry about in most cases. They can be easily prevented and treated, and if you do require treatment you will have plenty of options to choose from.
This is a collaborative guest post.